NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs to Slash Spending at Midyear?


Norma Munn, chairperson of the New York City Arts Coalition, released an analysis of the preliminary budget for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs late last week. And once again she is ringing alarm bells.

Proposed cuts in city funding for a variety of agencies and services are often restored by the City Council. But, as Munn additionally notes, the funding situation for the arts is already perilous. The question: Is this more evidence that the nonprofit arts business model is fundamentally dysfunctional?

Story continues below.

Quoting from Munn’s information:

What follows is a re-cap of the current budget (FY2010) followed by the data released yesterday. Otherwise this information will not make sense.

FY2010 – Original Current Total: $158.3 million
Nov. Cut: $6.4 million*
Agency Total: $151.9 Million**

*Please note: the Nov. cut has not been approved by the City Council. It is supposed to be decided sometime in February, so if you want to object, you can still do so. It represents a 3.4% cut to CIGs, Program/CDF groups, and CASA.

** Please remember that this figure includes all Council enhancements (i.e., add-ons), Council restorations, CASA, etc. It is not the number the Mayor and OMG consider baseline, and all mayoral budgets revert to baseline for future projections. For comparison, the current baseline, after the cut listed above, is calculated by OMB to be $130.5 million.

FY2011 – Proposed Agency Total from Baseline: $120.1 million
Contingency Plan if Gov. Paterson budget is passed with planned City cuts: $110.6

Decrease of $10.5 million from FY10 baseline to FY2011 baseline.

(The additional decrease of $9.461 million in the Contingency budget appears to come entirely from the Cultural Institutions Group (mandated for city funding), but some details were not provided. What is clear is that this contingency cut contemplates an additional loss of 202 city supported staff positions at the CIGs.)

Details on the Preliminary Budget of $120.1 are as follows:

Total FY2011: $95.7 million
Amount of decrease from baseline FY2010: $8.7 million

Total FY201: $19.5 million
Amount of decrease from baseline FY2010: $1.8 million

Based on OMB calculations, the Mayor proposed an 8% cut to the agency totals ($10.5 Million) for FY 2011. Remember, they compare baseline to baseline. We look at baseline plus what the Council has restored and/or added.

Also, this is a preliminary budget. There will be hearings at the Council on this, followed by their response, followed by a final proposal from the Mayor in late April/early May, followed by another round of hearings and negotiations with the Council, with a final budget in late June.

Restoring cuts to baseline, obtaining annual enhancements, such as CASA, requires work over the next few weeks and continuing. Increasingly, the first response from the City Council to the preliminary budget is also their final response. Try to see your Council member soon with two messages. It is very late in the year to do a mid-year budget cut, and result is terribly destabilizing. Also, ongoing cuts of this magnitude may look reasonable on paper, but in reality, they are on top of already severe cuts.