News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: October 23, 2018

Contact: Ryan Max,, 212-513-9323


The funding, which was allocated by the Mayor and City Council in this year’s budget, will support cultural programming at 977 groups in all five boroughs

DCLA’s $198.4 million Fiscal Year 2019 budget, the largest in the agency’s history, also increases support for the 33 members of the Cultural Institutions Group

Queens, NY – Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl and City Council Member and Cultural Affairs Committee Chair Jimmy Van Bramer today joined cultural stakeholders from across the city to announce $43.9 million in grants to support public programming at 977 cultural organizations across all five boroughs. This includes major support for priorities in the City’s CreateNYC cultural plan, providing greater funding equity for culture in every corner of the city.

“The economic, educational, and cultural importance of New York City’s museums, theaters, and other cultural institutions cannot be overstated,” said Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen. “When the arts thrive, New York City thrives – which is why this year we’ve made the largest-ever financial commitment to Cultural Affairs in our NYC history.”

“The City Council knows how important arts and culture are to New York City and how vital it is that we ensure all our neighbors have access to the institutions and organizations that make our City the cultural capital of the world,” said Speaker Corey Johnson. “We are proud to support arts and culture throughout the five boroughs as an economic engine for tourism and as a way to enrich the lives of all New Yorkers. I thank Chairman Van Bramer for his leadership and the Council looks forward to continuing to partner with DCLA to support our City’s world class cultural scene.”

“Investing in culture brings tremendous benefits to our city at all levels, from a vibrant economy, to healthy neighborhoods, to transformative experiences for individuals,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “That’s why this year’s record-setting cultural budget, made possible thanks to collaboration between Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, is so exciting. It enables us to support the important work of over 1,000 cultural organizations throughout the city, as well as provide unprecedented levels of funding for individual artists in all five boroughs. Building on CreateNYC’s emphasis on sustainability, diversity, and equity in all aspects of the arts, we are proud to work alongside our colleagues in City government and in the cultural sector to make these historic investments on behalf of all New Yorkers.”

“As the Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, I fight every day for the thousands of artists and cultural groups that form the heart and soul of our city,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “In this year's budget, I'm proud to have led the effort to allocate a record $198.4 million to the DCLA, nearly $200 million in capital funding and $43.9 million in grants to empower hundreds of outstanding cultural organizations to expand their programming. This dramatically increased funding will benefit millions of New Yorkers and directly work to increase the diversity and accessibility of arts and culture across all five boroughs.”

Highlights of this $43.9 million include:

  • Over $28 million included in agency’s baseline for the Cultural Development Fund (CDF), awarded through a competitive, peer panel review process.
  • $5 million added by the Mayor distributed to all CDF recipients, with larger proportional increases for small organizations.
  • $5 million from the City Council in the form of member item discretionary award
  • $2.85 million for CDF recipients located in neighborhoods identified by the Social Impact of the Arts Project’s report “Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City.”
  • As a part of CreateNYC, 72 organizations received $360,000 for providing expanded language access to cultural programming in their communities in over a dozen of the most frequently spoken non-English languages across the city. 

Major growth in cultural funding with a focus on equity

In FY14, DCLA provided $31.3 million for cultural programs through the CDF and City Council member items. FY19’s $43.9 million in program funding represents a 40% increase over FY14, including increases for CreateNYC priorities promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the cultural sector as outlined above.

Increases for the arts councils

Included in this figure is also increased funding for five borough arts councils for grants provided to individual artists and smaller organizations that may not be eligible for direct City funding. This funding has increased fourfold since FY15, from just under $1 million to nearly $3 million in the current budget, marking a major source of support for artists and creators living and working in NYC.

Largest budget in agency history

DCLA’s $198.4 million FY19 budget is the largest-ever City allocation for the agency, even when adjusted for inflation. It includes funding for ongoing funding programs, many of which grew from CreateNYC, including the CUNY Cultural Corps, Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact, CreateNYC Disability Forward Fund, and the CreateNYC Leadership Accelerator. It also includes increased funding for the 33 members of the Cultural Institutions Group, with a larger proportional increase for smaller institutions.

"This historic investment demonstrates NYC's strong commitment to arts and culture," said NYC Council Finance Chair Daniel Dromm. "This $43.9 million in funding will ensure that cultural programming reaches every corner of the city, particularly immigrant and low income communities who traditionally have not had the same degree of access to the arts as those who live in wealthier neighborhoods. I am pleased to have worked with NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Commissioner Finkelpearl, and Chair Van Bramer to bring a greater degree of equity to this budget, and to bring NYC's already thriving arts and culture scene to new heights."

“As is evidenced by the vast repertoire of activities, performances, galleries, and special events here at Flushing Town Hall, the arts and culture community in New York City is alive and well,” said Council Member Peter Koo. “This influx of funding will provide even more opportunities for our city’s world class talent to thrive, and I’d like to thank the Department of Culture Affairs for making sure that people and facilities who serve the arts and culture community have the resources they need to succeed.”

“When we invest in the cultural organizations that make our city a vibrant place to live and work, all New Yorkers benefit,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I am heartened by the continued commitment to culture and arts – the biggest in the city’s history – and I look forward to all the great work that will follow.”

“Cultural institutions are the lifeblood of not just Queens, but the entire city. Hundreds of organizations across the five boroughs do incredible work to educate and enrich our families through the arts, music, dance, history and conservancy every single day. They also employ thousands of hard-working New Yorkers and serve as anchors of our thriving tourism industry,” Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said. “This funding will go a long way toward furthering the missions of each of our cultural institutions, making them stronger, more vibrant entities for the public to enjoy.”

“Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Council, and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs continue to strengthen our city’s cultural sector, and the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) is thankful for their support,” said John F. Calvelli, Chair of the CIG and Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society. “The CIG is excited about our continued work and partnerships with the cultural and arts community throughout the five boroughs. Our leadership recognizes the pivotal role that all cultural organizations and artists play in making New York City the greatest city in the world and this support yields a monumental return on investment for all New Yorkers regardless of age, background, or status.”

“New York City’s neighborhoods draw so much of their energy and vibrancy from the cultural activity that happens here,” said Chair of the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission Susana Leval. “I applaud this investment by Mayor de Blasio and the City Council in cultural nonprofits that serve as community hubs across the city, and in the artists who make our city the unique and dynamic place it is.”

CreateNYC, released in July 2017, integrated feedback from nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, as well as a range of recent research. This included the findings of the Social Impact of the Art Project’s 2017 report “Culture and Social Wellbeing in New York City,” which was initiated at the invitation of Commissioner Finkelpearl and supported by local foundations. It explored the relationship between New York City’s cultural assets, and overall wellbeing of residents, finding that cultural assets correlate with a range of improvements in wellbeing indicators including positive outcomes in health, education, and even crime; and that these benefits are associated with culture to a greater degree in low income communities than in wealthy communities. These findings helped inform the distribution of this year’s cultural funding.

“The CreateNYC cultural plan called for greater support for New York City’s cultural community across the board, and this funding delivers in key ways,” said Ben Rodriguez-Cubenas, Chair of the CreateNYC Citizens’ Advisory Committee. “From artists living and working in all five boroughs who now have access to record levels of funding, to expanded cultural programs in low-income and underserved neighborhoods, the City’s cultural budget represents both long-term stability, and exciting new investments in the cultural life of our city. Congratulations to everyone who made it possible.”

About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves nonprofit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs.