Dear friends and colleagues:
I am overjoyed to announce my return to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs effective March 14, 2016 after a six month medical leave. I feel great and want to thank everyone who has expressed support throughout my treatment and recovery. Each of your cards and emails has given me new strength and helped to keep up my spirits. I cannot wait to begin seeing you all again in person!
During this period, the DCLA staff has done a tremendous job moving forward the important work of the agency. Though my treatment and recovery have limited my ability to fully participate in the day-to-day operation of the agency, I remained a part of the team – and fully confident in the abilities of Deputy Commissioner Edwin Torres, who served as Acting Commissioner. I thank him for his outstanding work.
Like many cancer survivors, I am returning with a new sense of urgency. These months have given me the opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments, as well as how my team and I can continue to meaningfully work toward the de Blasio Administration’s vision for a more equitable city. We’ve been able to build on our role as the largest local supporter of arts and culture in America under Mayor de Blasio, growing our ability to connect residents to our cultural community and lay the groundwork for a more inclusive and vital creative sector.
We have worked with the Mayor's Offices of Immigrant Affairs and cultural institutions to provide free memberships for IDNYC card holders; launched the Public Artists in Residence (PAIR) program that asks artists to utilize their creativity to address civic issues; increased our capacity building for small cultural organizations in neighborhoods undergoing community planning efforts; working with the Economic Development Corporation on Affordable Real Estate for Artists (AREA) to ensure that artists continue to live and work here in New York; working with the Department of Education in increasing arts education in our public schools; and working with the New York City Housing Authority and the Department of the Aging to enrich the lives of constituents through increased cultural programming.
And DCLA continues to provide robust support to one of the most remarkable creative communities anywhere in the world, funding programs and construction projects that give New Yorkers opportunities to experience the profound transformational and educational benefits of cultural engagement. We will continue to find new ways to support the critical role culture plays in neighborhoods all over the city. We look forward to kicking off the City's first-ever comprehensive cultural plan later this year. To provide a solid foundation for the plan and to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to participate in the process, DCLA has directed two research studies: a milestone demographic report on the diversity of cultural organizations released in January, and the Social Impact of the Arts survey to be released later this year.
The level of support, commitment, and enthusiasm from our partners across sectors has provided DCLA with opportunities to make substantial progress toward a more widely accessible and inclusive cultural community. We are blessed with enthusiastic colleagues and advocates across the Administration, in the City Council, and in the cultural community. I can’t wait to get back to work so that we can demonstrate that in New York, art and culture are for everyone.
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs