Background image of Brooklyn Bridge. Text reads the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, Supporting New York City's Creative Economy
Dear Friends, 

I am writing to share the news that I will be stepping down as Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) tomorrow, June 30, to take on a new role as Senior Policy Advisor for Creative Sector Strategy at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). Mayor Adams has appointed Pat Kaufman to assume the role of MOME Commissioner on July 1. Pat joined MOME last October as First Deputy of Creative Sector Programs and brings a wealth of experience in economic development and fostering growth in the entertainment industry from her role as Executive Director of the New York State Governor’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development and Deputy Commissioner of Empire State Development.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as MOME Commissioner for 4+ years and under two administrations, during such a critical moment in the history of my beloved hometown. When I joined MOME in 2014, I could not have anticipated the challenges and triumphs we would face together: a global pandemic, the dramatic comeback of our creative economy, and the significant expansion of the agency from two to five divisions. I am incredibly proud of everything we have been able to accomplish during my 8.5-year tenure at the agency.

Together, we launched a series of programs to increase diversity in our creative sectors: Made in NY Post Production Training Program, Made in NY Theatrical Workforce Development Program, Made in NY Animation Project, Sound Thinking NYC to introduce young women to careers in music production, and MediaMKRS to train, credential and prepare NYC public school and CUNY students for careers in film and television. We created the NYC Public School Film Festival in partnership with the NYC Department of Education to showcase films by our talented public school students and connect them to career exploration opportunities. And we awarded $7.5M to 342 projects led by creatives identifying as women through the NYC Women’s Fund for Media, Music and Theatre.

With the expansion of MOME’s portfolio, we embarked on efforts to map for the first time the economic impact of our creative sectors, with studies of freelance workers, small theatre, digital games, and publishing. And we sought to preserve our cultural capital by partnering with NYC Economic Development Corporation to negotiate a deal with Berklee School of Music to renovate and operate the iconic Power Station recording studios as a state-of-the-art learning lab and recording facility, and to establish a 500,000-square-foot film and television production hub which will be operated by Steiner Studios at the Made in NY Campus at Sunset Park.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, MOME’s work shifted from bolstering NYC’s robust creative economy to crisis management as the sectors in our portfolio were the first to shut down. It was heartening to see the many ways our fellow New Yorkers immediately stepped up to support each other. In the days following the shutdown, we set up a series of Town Calls in partnership with industry stakeholders and city, state and federal agencies to connect arts, entertainment and nightlife workers to resources and support services, and we launched a dedicated television broadcast channel on NYC Media to provide New Yorkers with 24/7 information about COVID resources.

We partnered with NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Tourism and NYC Health + Hospitals to create programs such as “Virtual NYC Curator Collections”, “Music for the Soul”, “Off-Broadway in the Boros: Pop-Ups”, and “NY Music Month: Extended Play” to keep audiences engaged with our world-class arts and entertainment and provide employment opportunities for workers in the creative sectors. We also partnered with Citywide Events Coordination and Management, NYC Department of Transportation and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs to open public spaces for the return of live performance through the Open Culture program.

In the months following, we collaborated with industry stakeholders to ensure the safe return of film and television production and Broadway, which led NYC’s economic recovery. Working with Citywide Events Coordination and Management, we were able to orchestrate virtual productions of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Times Square New Year’s Eve to continue these longstanding NYC traditions viewed by millions across the globe.

To facilitate the return to work of our arts and entertainment workers, we opened the Broadway Vaccination Center in partnership with NYC Health + Hospitals and the NYC COVID Response Team. In addition, we created technical assistance programs such as “Curtains Up NYC” and “Fair Share NYC: Restaurants” in partnership with NYC Small Business Services to support live performance venues and hospitality establishments in accessing federal relief.

The pandemic revealed the extent to which our creative sectors are a significant driver of jobs and business for the city, generating roughly 10% of the City’s GDP. We witnessed firsthand how engaging industry stakeholders in direct dialogue with city government can drive growth and stability in ways that align with and buttress the city’s economic development goals. And we saw that when government, communities and businesses value the critical importance of the creative economy, they become valuable partners in advancing New York City’s role as a global creative capital.

In many ways, the pandemic sharpened our focus and mission to support and strengthen NYC’s creative economy. We organized our programs and initiatives under a new Creative Sector Programs division, issued a report from the Office of Nightlife with recommendations for supporting the recovery of the nightlife industry, published a study from the Film Office on the economic impact of the film and television industry, and established a new Press Credentials Office at MOME.

To continue an ongoing, direct dialogue between government and industry, we convened the first-ever industry councils for digital games and film and television production. To support industry growth and talent development, we invested $2M in the first-ever Bachelor’s Degree program in Digital Game Design at The City College of New York, established a home for the Freelancers Hub at Industry City, and developed a partnership with the GRAMMY Museum to bring their renowned educational and public programs to NYC. We also expanded local content and Spanish language programming on NYC Media. To promote NYC as a creative capital, we continue to develop targeted marketing programs to celebrate our creative industries, such as “JanArtsNYC: Performing Arts Month,” “NY Music Month,” “#NYCLovesBookstores” and our latest, “NYC Summer of Games.”

These accomplishments were made possible by the hard work and dedication of my amazing staff at MOME, the support and collaboration from my esteemed colleagues in government and civic life, and the unparalleled innovation, creativity and tenacity of New York City’s creative community.

I am especially grateful to MOME’s leadership team who continue to strengthen the work of our respective divisions: Kwame Amoaku, Deputy Commissioner for the Film Office; Karen Johnson, General Manager at NYC Media; Samer Nasser, Executive Director of the Press Credentials Office; Jose Soegaard, Deputy Director at the Office of Nightlife; and Alia Jones-Harvey, Associate Commissioner of Workforce and Education.

The creative community is the city’s heart and soul. Creativity makes New York what it is. I look forward to continuing to work with you in my new role to strengthen and elevate our creative economy.
With deepest gratitude and sincerest regards,

Anne del Castillo
The City of New York
Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment
Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment