Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs NYCulture City of New York










About Cultural Affairs

1896 - 1964  |  1965 - 1980  |  1982 - 1995  |  1998 - 2007


1965 -   Facilities Built
for the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadow
Park are converted for cultural use and
are known today as the Queens Museum,
New York Hall of Science, Queens
Botanical Garden and New York State
Theater at Lincoln Center.

1966 -   John V. Lindsay
takes office as Mayor and issues an executive order that broadens OCA’s sphere of concern, mandating for the first time that OCA deal not only with the performing arts but with all the institutions, museums, zoos, libraries, botanic gardens and theaters. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel replaces Dowling as Director of the OCA.

1967 -   OCA
becomes part of the newly christened Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Administration (PRCA) and moves to the Arsenal building in Central Park.

1968 -   Department of Cultural Affairs
created within the Parks Department. Doris C. Freedman becomes Director of Cultural Affairs.

1970 -   Dore Schary
is appointed as New York City’s first Commissioner of Cultural Affairs within the PRCA.

1974 -   Martin E. Segal,
Chair of the Mayor’s Committee on Cultural Policy, authors a report examining the economic
impact of arts and culture on the tri-state area and recommending the creation of an independent
Department of Cultural Affairs. The report also recommends the establishment of the Mayor’s
Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission.

1976 -  

Under Mayor Abraham D. Beame,
Cultural Affairs becomes a separate agency and Claude Shostal becomes the City’s first Commissioner of Cultural Affairs.

The 15 cultural institutions housed in City-owned buildings or on City-owned property that had been receiving their City support from the Bureau of the Budget, are added to the new agency’s budget. These institutions and future City-owned culturals would come to be known as the Cultural Institutions Group (CIGs).

The Mayor’s Awards for Arts and Culture are inaugurated.

1977 -   Mayor Edward I. Koch
appoints Henry Geldzahler Commissioner of Cultural Affairs.

DCLA administers the federally funded Comprehensive Employment and Training Act
Artists Project (CETA), the largest government-funded artist employment project since the WPA of the 1930’s, hiring more than 600 artists to provide cultural services throughout the City, as well as 300 CETA employees in maintenance, guard and other positions at cultural institutions. This program continues through 1980.

1978 -   Angela Fremont
helps out the Central Park Zoo by announcing over the radio that the Zoo needs a refrigerator to house medicines for the animals. Within minutes, the Zoo’s office is inundated with phone calls, and Materials for the Arts (MFTA) is born. Through MFTA, DCLA gathers materials – including paint, furniture, electronic equipment, and costume trimmings – from companies and organizations and distributes them free of charge to arts organizations, public schools, City agencies, and arts programs at social service and community organizations.

1980 -   The Department of Cultural Affairs
moves its headquarters to the former Gallery of Modern Art at 2 Columbus Circle, where the agency operated a gallery space and sponsored
in-house cultural events for the first time.

The Arts Exposure Program, administered with ArtsConnection, becomes the agency’s first targeted funding for arts education activities, providing earned income for 38 communitybased
arts organizations chosen through a panel process.

Free-for-all, a DCLA-initiated presenting program, uses a panel process to fund 68 arts organizations that bring more than 97 free performances to over 30 Parks throughout the City; awards range from $500 to $2,500.




1896 - 1964  |  1965 - 1980  |  1982 - 1995  |  1998 - 2007