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PR- 022-07
January 24, 2007


Deal Will Expand Merit Based Funding for City's Non-profit Cultural Community

Four-part Agreement Also Includes Baseline Funding for Parks and Childcare, and Reform of Capital Budget

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin and members of the City Council today announced a four-part agreement in the preliminary budget that establishes a base level of annual funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs, Parks Department and Administration for Children's Services and provides greater disclosure on the City's capital budget.

Most significantly, the agreement will allocate $30 million toward a merit-based fund for cultural organizations. Established jointly by the Administration and the City Council, the fund replaces long-standing fixed entitlements to arts organizations with an expanded competitive review process, giving more cultural groups access to public funds that will allow them to provide quality public services throughout the five boroughs. These dollars will be baselined into the 2008 budget, which will provide fiscal stability, increased transparency and ensure a greater level of accountability for public money funding hundreds of cultural programs and 34 City-owned institutions through the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).

The plan announced by the Mayor and the Council Speaker also includes baselining $14 million for park maintenance, enforcement and tree care. Additionally, $10 million for family child care programs through the Administration of Children's Services will also be baselined.

"These significant reforms included in tomorrow's budget will increase transparency and accountability and shorten the budget dance we see every year," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Amongst other things, this means more certainty for funding for our parks, child care programs, and our cultural institutions - which not only contribute to our City's rich quality of life, but also add $5 billion to our economy.  The current budget structure limits our ability to support organizations based on their contributions to the City or to make strategic investments in our cultural life. I am delighted to partner with Speaker Quinn and the Council to ensure a transparent, merit-based system that allows our City's significant support for non-profit cultural activities to benefit communities and cultural organizations of all sizes and disciplines throughout the five boroughs."

"Building on our work last year to protect libraries and summer youth jobs from the annual chopping block, the Council has continued to advocate for budget reform and transparency. We are proud to today stand with Mayor Bloomberg to announce that arts organizations, parks and our child care can all now bank on the City's annual support rather than worry each year about whether they'll get funded," said Speaker Quinn.  "Our children's services agency will have the resources it or they need to make sure our youngest residents are provided safe daycare. Our parks will be better maintained and more secure. Our diverse community-based and City-wide arts groups will be able to continue the artistic programming that makes New York City the culture capital of the world.  And we will have more transparency in our capital budget.  I want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for once again hearing the Council, and for partnering with us to make New York's budget more responsive to our residents."

"As the largest public funder of arts and culture in the country, the City of New York provides tremendous support for our extraordinary non-profit cultural community. And as the cultural field grows and evolves, the City needs the ability to respond to new developments and provide more meaningful support to hundreds of excellent organizations across the City," said Commissioner Levin. "By stabilizing the amount of support that flows to the cultural field and by being more responsive to the needs of cultural organizations, Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn are helping to ensure a dynamic and robust cultural life for New York City."

"Today the Council and the Mayor have taken another major step toward ending the budget dance by ensuring that the lifeblood of New York City, our cultural institutions, are guaranteed to receive the funding they deserve," said Councilmember David Weprin, Chair of the Council Finance Committee.  "The baselining of funding for cultural institutions will enable those organizations that contribute so much to New York's reputation as the cultural capital of the world to be protected on a permanent basis."

Cultural Funding:

In the late 1980s, the City added 172 individual cultural programs into the City's budget. This "Line Item," funding was frozen in the City's budget and has not changed to reflect budget growth or changes in the organizations' programming.  In 2007, these programs received $13.2 million in funding based on the allocations that were made two decades ago.  From 1986, when the last new Line Item was added to the City's budget, until 2002, other cultural programs that received Line Item funding could only receive additional City funding by securing one-time funding from the City Council - which in fiscal year 2007 provided $8.8 million. 

In 2002, the Bloomberg Administration created the Cultural Development Fund (CDF), a merit-based funding stream for cultural organizations, which allocated funding through the use of an expert peer-panel review.  In fiscal year 2007, Speaker Quinn doubled the amount of money available through the CDF. However, 641 cultural groups still competed for only $3.8 million in CDF monies.

In addition to expanding program funding, the plan stabilizes the budget for the 34 City-owned cultural institutions (known as Cultural Institution Groups or CIGs), establishes a "New Needs" fund of $5 million to strategically address evolving needs at CIGs, and introduces new accountability measures. CIGs will now be reviewed under "CultureStat," a performance-based review process that will help the individual institutions and the City more effectively monitor and encourage organizational best practices and good governance. 

"The City Council recognizes the fundamental and critical role that all the arts organizations play across this great city," said Domenic Recchia, the Chair of the Council's Cultural Affairs Committee.  "Everything that the arts provide - from economic development to education - is what makes New York City truly unique and successful. By providing funding certainty, we show our commitment to the arts groups that have proven their commitment to our City time and time again. This firm footing will truly show that we in government are behind the arts one hundred percent.

Additional Funding for Parks and ACS:

In addition to overhauling the process and increasing the funding for cultural institutions, Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn also announced an agreement to baseline $14 million for park maintenance, enforcement officers, and seasonal workers for playgrounds. This will increase park safety and accessibility.  This action also removes uncertainty for enforcement officers and playground associates, whose jobs were in limbo each spring during the annual budget discussions.

"It is encouraging to hear about this funding for the parks, which will significantly help the Department in maintaining our impressive parks facilities citywide," said Councilmember Helen D. Foster  "We will continue to ensure that funding for our parks is equal to our City's need."

Today's agreement also established $10 million in annual funding for ACS' Family Child Care program, which is child care provided by a licensed provider in the home. Baselining this $10 million provides an additional 1,425 child care slots and enables ACS and other family child care providers and child care networks to plan for long term allocation and utilization of these slots.  This action alleviates the uncertainty about continuity of service that many families enrolled in Family Child Care have lived with each year during the annual budget process.

"For years the Council has been restoring child care funding into the budget for upwards of 1,500 low-income children," said Bill De Blasio, Chair of the Council's General Welfare Committee.  "This is a gratifying moment to know that we will now be able to depend on those funds moving forward. I will continue to work hard to ensure the Administration for Children's Services has adequate resources to protect and care for our city's children."

Capital Budget Reform:

Also at today's announcement, the Mayor and Speaker outlined further agreements to reform the capital budget process.  These include having Office of Management and Budget provide the City Council with more information regarding funding of capital projects, increasing the information provided to the Council and its staff to make the administration of the capital program more transparent, and having Council staff provide feedback to OMB regarding agency expenditures for capital projects.


Stu Loeser/John Gallagher (Office of Mayor)   (212) 788-2958

Maria Alvarado (Council Press Office)   (212) 788-7116

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