Autumn is an exciting time for the Department of Cultural Affairs. Not because it must migrate, or gather nuts for the winter; these functions were offloaded to private contractors years ago. Rather, it is time for the culmination of the year’s budget dance in the ritual mailing-out of checks.
When we first told you of the budget dance, it was a dance of anger. The Mayor’s office had threatened to cut arts funding by nearly 40%, endangering nonprofits citywide. The people, in response, sent forth champions, to argue that maybe 2012 wasn’t the year when art suddenly didn’t matter. Posturing and threats were the order of the day.
Weeks later, City Council voted to restore arts funding, even increasing the budget by $4 million dollars (to $156 million, in 2013). To the great surprise of the arts community, funding increases happen sometimes. The arts had survived another year.
Now the good news is being delivered, in check form, to art centers across the city. From younger organizations like NURTUREart to more established ones like Franklin Furnace, many nonprofits have confirmed receiving a larger grant than last year.
Ryan Max, External Affairs Associate at the Department of Cultural Affairs, told us that an additional $1 million in grant money has been allocated to the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) for 2013. That’s important, because most art organizations in the metropolitan area fall under the CDF. Of the almost 1,100 applicants who applied for CDF awards this year, Max said, 83% are being funded.
One of those recipients, Karen Marston, Director of NURTUREart out in Bushwick, told us about receiving a bigger award letter this year. In light of “fears about imminent reductions” in city-wide art funding, she said, the “pleasant surprise” was more than welcome.