Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New York City Arts Coalition Sounds the Alarm on Cuts to NYSCA

Through my colleague Paul Bargetto of East River Commedia, I received this email blast put out today by Norma Munn, chairperson of the New York City Arts Coalition. Bottom line: times are about to get much, much tougher, and Governor Patterson is recommending more cuts to the New York State Council on the Arts. Get involved!


Governor Paterson will include a proposed $7.2 million cut to the State Council on the Arts in the list of possible cuts that he is announcing at his 11:30 press conference.

Governor Paterson is providing the proposed list to the State Legislature as it starts its special session November 18. That special session is to deal with the additional $1.5 billion deficit in the current fiscal year. The 6% cut ($2.6 million) from a few weeks ago was designed to deal with the earlier projected state deficit, which has now grown considerably.

NYSCA had on hand roughly $8 million in uncontracted funds after the 6% cut a few weeks ago. Obviously an additional $7 million cut leaves almost nothing for the applicants who had grants under consideration for the October and December Council meetings. (FYI, October Council meeting was postponed for those who might not be aware of it)

This is a list of possible cuts. The legislature can (1) do nothing and leave the problem to the Governor¹s hands, or (2) change the list by coming up with other cuts and taking some things off the list, or (3) pass the proposed list as presented.

If the legislature does nothing, it is usually within the power of a Governor to simply not spend money and thereby make the cuts happen.

My understanding is that the list from Governor Paterson contains some fairly severe cuts to social service programs, as well as other areas, such as education, that will make it very hard for the arts to make a case that NYSCA should not be cut. Bluntly put, we will not avoid some kind of cut, but this cut would pretty much out NYSCA’s funds, which I am pretty sure is a more severe impact than on other agencies. The two cuts together also equal about 20% of NYSCA¹s entire appropriation for grants.


Everyone should do the following quickly:

(1) Contact the Governor¹s office and object to the size of the proposed cut, and pointing out that it pretty much eliminated the last half of the year¹s funding for applicants at NYSCA, and that NYSCA is now taking a 20% cut. (Faxed letters are best, but email is better than doing nothing. Phone calls are least effective, but if you can organize a lot of them and feel like doing it, go ahead. In short, protest politely, but firmly. (Phone: 518-474-8390; Fax 518-474-1513. No direct email. Go to where you can sign on to send an email.)

(2) Contact your State Assembly and State Senator and let them know how this impacts on you. Again, you should also point out the size of this potential cut and impact on the agency. Letters are best, but if you know the person or can talk directly to their Chief of Staff or budget person, a phone call is OK. Email is not a good idea. There will not be enough of it in most offices to make an impact. (And get your Board to do something, please.)

Ask the Assembly and Senate members to decrease the proposed cut significantly. Don¹t get dragged into a conversation about how much, if you can avoid it. There is no right number, so trying to come up with one is pointless. You might consider suggesting that waste in government be eliminated before they go after funds for organizations that squeeze every penny.

Lastly, if you got our survey a few days ago and have not filled it out, please fill it out by going to: I need the information about outside payments and current employment very badly. This situation is just the beginning and we need that information to make a better case for ourselves.

Norma P. Munn
New York City Arts Coalition
19 W. 44 Street, Suite 1108
New York, NY 10036
P: 212-246-3788
F: 212-944-1631

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