Sunday, December 21, 2008

Will Governor Paterson Decimate NYSCA?

Another major development while I was away was the unveiling of Governor Paterson's budget for (and budget cuts to) the New York State Council on the Arts. Below is an email I received from Norma Munn, chair of the New York City Arts Coalition. I support Norma but I wonder if the current fiscal situation, being so dire, doesn't really call on all of us to sacrifice something, and whether this proposal, in that sense, isn't really rather fair. Comments, anyone? (And apologies, too -- I'm still catching up on emails.)


Here is what was recommended in the proposed FY2010 State budget released by Governor Paterson today:

$38.9 million (Local Assistance) = Grant dollars
$5.5 million (Administration)
$44.4 million (Total)

Compared to where we started the current fiscal year, this is a 20% cut in grant dollars for the upcoming budget starting April 1, 2009. It is a 10% cut to administration

ALSO, the Governor plans to reintroduce his proposal to cut $7 million from the current NYSCA budget. This would be on the agenda for the legislature when it reconvenes on January 7, 2009.

Task 1 – Prevent the $7 million cut to the current year.

Write to the Chair of the Committee on Tourism, Arts and Sports Development in the Assembly, Steve Englebright, 149 Main Street, East Setauket, NY 11733 - NOW. A mid-year cut would essentially zero most of October and December applicants, which is unfair and horrendous.

Write to Senator Jose Serrano, 157 East 104th Street, Ground Level, New York, NY 10029. He is in line to be Chair of the Senate committee on the arts if the Democrats actually take control of the Senate.

ANALYSIS – next year’s budget.
Three factors have major implications for the proposed budget. The economy, the potential fiscal stimulus plan from President-Elect Obama and its impact on State budgets, and the outcome of the current chaos over control of the NYS Senate.

It is unlikely the economy will improve significantly in the next three to four months. A fiscal stimulus package that directed serious money to the State quickly could help tremendously. As for the State Senate maneuvering among the Democrats, I don’t have a crystal ball and would not even venture a guess. Fortunately for us, both Republicans and Democrats support the arts in the State. However, all this means a lot of uncertainty in terms of planning.

Prepare brief one to two paragraph explanations of the impact of a 20% cut. Be specific, i.e., layoffs, cuts to programs, etc. (Please email a copy to the New York City Arts Coalition at

Set up an appointment in January with your local State Assembly Member and State Senator. If you have colleagues in the district, going together can be helpful, so think of reaching out to others to work together on these appointments. Please don’t worry about going to Albany; seeing elected officials at home is fine. (And a lot less expensive.) We will provide you with some data from our recent survey on jobs, and some historical data on NYSCA funding in early January.

Keep us posted of the responses you get from these appointments.

Finally, these are things you can realistically do that can help. When some of the uncertainty is diminished, additional action can be effectively planned.

Thank you, and when we know anything else, you’ll know.

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

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Anonymous said...

NYSCA provides critical operating support for many small museums and historical societies across the state, money that allows them to turn on the lights and open their doors. The $7 million cut to NYSCA means none of these organizations will get a dime of operating support. This translates into jobs lost, which never helps economic recovery. Further, cultural tourism is NY's second largest industry, which means without these museums open, running programs and mounting exhibits, the state's economic engine is further seized. Definitely not a recipe for economic recovery, and that's not fair for anyone.

Leonard Jacobs said...

What's even more unfair is your craven unwillingness to actually put your name on your comment. Why should anyone assume you're anything but a toadying swine?