Department of Cultural Affairs Budget Set, Says Munn

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According to Norma Munn, chairperson of the New York City Arts Coalition, the Fiscal Year 2010 budget for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs is pretty much set. In an email on Friday, Munn sent out the following, below. Do take note of her comments at the end of the email — they’re pretty important and insightful.

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The City Council is voting today on the FY2010 budget. Here is the Department of Cultural Affairs as provided by the Council documents. In order to provide a clear picture, I have backtracked (using the Council documents) to the budget for 2008. The two-year history is instructive.

…All numbers are rounded off, and are in Millions.

CIG, FY 2008: $121.0
CIG, FY 2009: $118.2
CIG FY 2010: $104.4 (Mayor proposed), + $16.0 (restored by the NYC Council) = $120.4

CDF, FY 2008: $35.5
CDF, FY 2009: $30.0
CDF, FYI 2010: $21.5 (Mayor proposed) + $3.5 (restored by the NYC Council) + $25.0

…this returns the CIGs pretty close to their FY 2008 funding, which is very helpful to them. It leaves the several hundred CDF (Program) groups $5.5 million less than in 2008, or about 16% less than two years ago.

In addition, the Council continued the after school program, CASA, at $5.1 million and Council members will again decide which groups are funded under this program as they have in the past.

The Council also allocated $800,000 for ten theatre groups, organized as Coalition of Theatres of Color. (These are listed individually on the Council web site.) This is welcome continuation of needed funding.

As always, there are individual Council member allocations to a wide range of groups. You can find those listed on the Council web site. (council.nyc.gov) (Home page/just click on the highlighted reference to the budget, and look at the index to find where the individual allocations start. First section is alpha; others are by Council member.)

My sense is that there are considerably fewer cultural groups in this year’s allocations, particularly for the CIGs, but this list is quite long, so it may be just an impression.

Everyone with a Capital item will have to find out that information for themselves.

Personal Note: I am pleased that the Council took note of the very real difficulty facing the CIGS, and found funds to restore the cuts. However, I am deeply disappointed that the same sense of concern for several hundred CDF groups was less evident. I assume Council members feel they can make up those losses by their individual member items. Unfortunately, it does not work out that way in real life. The majority of CDF groups do not receive member item allocations.

The continuation of CASA is good news for many. If you have not contacted your Council member and want to be considered for that program (which is handled through DYCD, so beware of the level of insane paperwork required), do so ASAP. Some Council members may have made decisions, but some groups are dropping out of the program because of the paperwork requirements.

Overall this is a better result that we might have expected given the fiscal realities of the City. Whether it will hold through the year is another question. The City has been very conservative in its fiscal forecasts, unlike the State, so perhaps we will survive this year without mid-year cuts.

Please thank your Council member. This is a hard process for all of them. Looking through the restoration information on their web site should give you some idea of how many competing needs they have to resolve, from fire house closings to child care and food bank programs.

Norma P. Munn
New York City Arts Coalition