NY's Arts & Cultural Leaders Cheer Gov. Cuomo
Arts leaders from around the state cheered the news that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's 2015 budget proposal included a $5 million increase for the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and praised the effort of NYSCA Chairman Aby Rosen, who promoted it.
The increase is particularly significant since it continues an upward trend started in 2012-2013, when Governor Cuomo added $4 million in Regional Economic Development funds to the NYSCA budget. While arts advocates agree that this is a great step in the right direction, they will continue to work to restore NYSCA to its highest amount of local assistance funding, which was $54.3 million more than 27 years ago (in 1988-89 and 1989-1990). There is also a proposed increase in NYSCA staff, bringing the total number to 30.
Arts leaders are quick to point to how such funding not only benefits arts and culture in this state, but is also a boon to local economies. New York State is home to 53,085 arts-related businesses that employ 335,683 people, according to studies completed in recent years. According to Arts and Economic Prosperity IV, conducted by Le Moyne College in 2012, the nonprofit cultural sector is vital to Central New York, contributing over $130 million to the Greater Syracuse Area economy alone through direct expenditures and audience spending.
Starting in October, arts advocates met with their legislators asking them to write the Governor to request an increase. They explained to legislators that nonprofit cultural organizations are in actuality small businesses that have struggled through the recession with diminished resources and greater demand for their services. Many of these businesses do not have the foundation and corporate funding as do other more institutional players. CNY Arts, the regional arts council serving six counties in Central New York, is a leader in ArtsNYS, a statewide coalition of arts councils working on arts advocacy issues, and helped coordinate local advocacy efforts with the Arts and Culture Leadership Alliance (ACLA) of Onondaga County.
Last week, the statewide coalition again wrote Chairman Rosen, urging the state's arts leader to recommend a $5 million lift to New York State Council for the Arts’ local assistance program noting that he understands the plight of New York's arts organizations and the vital services they provide.
Legislators who had written to the Governor were also buoyed by the proposed arts increase. Syracuse Assemblyman William Magnarelli wrote: “These funds would go a long way in helping the various arts, cultural and heritage organizations throughout the State. The funds would provide a needed economic development boost for the region.”
“The arts are an important part of the Central New York economy and are a major source of tourism dollars coming into our region,” wrote Syracuse Assemblyman Samuel Roberts. “Increasing assistance to local art, culture and heritage organizations will afford help to many of the smaller groups in the area that do not have access to corporate funds or foundation funds.”
North Syracuse Assemblyman Albert A. Stirpe, Jr. agreed that the increase in arts funds benefits not just cultural organizations, but the communities in which they are located. “Cultural and arts organizations are “sticky assets” for our communities --once established, these cultural assets will not move to another state or country; these assets remain rooted in place,” wrote the Assemblyman.
Members of ArtsNYS and ACLA will be thanking the Governor and their legislators in the weeks ahead and building non-partisan support for the budget item.
The ArtsNYS coalition is comprised of 29 organizations. For a list of ArtsNYS members available for comment, go to www.artsNYS.org.