New York Boosts Funding for Nonprofit Arts Groups
By Charles Passy
As New York's arts groups continue to grapple with the
pandemic's economic impact, the state is providing a measure of
relief with its largest cultural financial commitment in recent
The state will funnel $100 million in grants and assistance to
nonprofit arts organizations over the coming year as part of the
$212 billion annual budget that was approved earlier this month.
That is in marked contrast to the cultural funding over the past
decade, which was around $40 million a year, according to state
In addition, officials pointed to other budgetary efforts to
support cultural groups and businesses in both the for-profit and
nonprofit realms. Among them: $100 million in tax credits to
musical and theatrical productions in New York City.
State officials also noted that for-profit arts groups may be
eligible for grants through an $800 million pool of funding that
has been set aside for small businesses.
The goal of these efforts, said Freeman Klopott, a spokesman for
the state's budget division, is to make sure cultural organizations
have the resources they need to recover from the Covid-19
State funding is generally a small component of most nonprofit
cultural groups' budgets. Grants generally range from a few
thousand dollars to around $135,000, depending on the size of the
organization and its needs, according to officials. Even the
state's $100-million commitment this year is far less than New York
City's annual cultural budget, which is typically well above $150
million and has been as high as $206.9 million in recent times,
according to the city's Department of Cultural Affairs.
Art groups and businesses are also eligible for support from the
federal government, including through the Save our Stages Act, a
pandemic-relief bill championed by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, a
Still, cultural groups are hailing the state's increased
commitment as a welcome sign, particularly given how funding has
stayed flat for so many years.
"This is stunning," said Elizabeth Sobol, president and chief
executive of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga
Springs. The center has received regular state funding through the
Suzanne Davidson, executive director of the Chamber Music
Society of Lincoln Center, another organization that is a longtime
state grant recipient, said the assistance in the next year is
crucial. She notes that her group is having to make financial
commitments for concerts it is planning in the coming months, but
it doesn't yet know how many tickets it will be allowed to sell
since capacity guidance can change. The government support could go
a long way to quell concerns, she added.
"There's a lot of expense in a complete sea of uncertainty," Ms.
State officials said the increase in arts funding speaks to the
fact that culture is increasingly being seen as an economic driver
for the state, be it in arts-rich New York City or smaller upstate
communities that pride themselves on their arts offerings. Mara
Manus, executive director of the New York State Council on the
Arts, the agency that oversees cultural funding, pointed to
research that showed before the pandemic the arts sector accounted
for $123 billion annually of the state's economy and provided
Daniel O'Donnell, a Democratic state assemblyman who represents
parts of Manhattan and has been a cultural advocate, said the real
test will be whether the state continues to fund at this level
after the pandemic.
"I hope it's a first step in a long process," he said.
Write to Charles Passy at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 22, 2021 09:15 ET (13:15 GMT)
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