Cuts to NYSCA Budget Coming, Fears Munn


CB101945According to a Friday email from Norma Munn, chair of the New York City Arts Coalition, Gov. Paterson has proposed a round of midyear cuts — totaling $3 billion — from the New York State budget. Some $500 million of that sum, Munn says, requires no action on the part of the state legislature; it would come out of “staffing, rent, utilities and travel.” This figure is about a sixth of the overall budget cut — and about 11% from the budget of the New York State Council on the Arts. The rest of the cuts — the other five-sixths — need legislative approval. Where that’s concerned, the NYSCA cuts will impact “the grants portion” of the agency’s appropriations. Bottom line: fewer grants, smaller numbers.

Munn writes:

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NYSCA has one Council meeting remaining this year. The funding available for that round of grants is $6 million. The proposed reduction to NYSCA in this area would reduce that funding by $612,000, of which $25,000 is from the Stabilization fund and the remainder would be from regular grants…

This proposed reduction requires legislative approval, and neither the Senate nor the Assembly has indicated when they plan to return to Albany to deal with this. Both have said they will hold hearings, but I am unaware of any concrete plans as to when such hearings will take place.

Since it was apparent from the time the state budget was passed that mid-year reductions were likely, some conversations have already been held with a few legislators on this issue. Our experience last year was too horrific to wait for the actual numbers. However, this amount is not so large as to require that we all go into panic mode.

That does not mean we want, or should passively accept, such a reduction. We have lost so much over the past two years that continued decreases are extremely difficult. Consequently we will continue to let legislators know about this, and so should each of you.

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The state has severe cash flow problems. The information I have is that payments on member item contracts have been frozen, and many agency contracts are also no longer being paid. I know that some member item contracts from the prior fiscal year are still unpaid.

It seems that most contracts from the first Council meeting that NYSCA held have been paid — please note, I said “most” — that does not mean ALL were paid. The second round has definitely been impacted, and as far as I can find out, is not being released. All of this depends on timing, and if you were late for some reason in returning a contract from the first round of NYSCA grants, your contract might have missed getting paid before the freeze. It is also possible that a contract from the second round might have made it through the system before the freeze, so please understand the context for this information.

For many groups, this will create even more financial pressure and add to the cash flow problems. If you need a cash flow loan, you can contact Education Affiliates Federal Credit Union. (This is the credit union with which the Artists Community FCU merged last year.) They are making loans on NYSCA, DCA and NEA contracts. You must have a signed contract, and no loans are currently being made on member items contracts from any state agency, only NYSCA contracts. Call Bibi Yusuf, Credit Manager, at 212-302-1954. They will welcome your inquiry.