For Immediate Release: November 17, 2023
CITY ANNOUNCES $7 MILLION IN SUPPORT FOR THE AFRICA CENTER AND HIGHLIGHTS NEW CAPITAL FUNDING FOR DOZENS OF CULTURAL GROUPS ACROSS MANHATTAN
The funding will support The Africa Center’s ongoing effort to fully build out and open to the public its 25,000 square-foot atrium space
Highlighted as part of the Adams administration's Working People’s Tour, Manhattan capital investments are part of over $222 Million in new capital funding from the Mayor, City Council, and Borough Presidents for over 75 cultural groups across the city
Photos and videos from the event and renderings of The Africa Center’s atrium project are available for download here
Manhattan-based DCLA capital grantees celebrate at The Africa Center on November 16, 2023. Photo courtesy DCLA.
Manhattan, NY – Yesterday, NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo joined community and cultural leaders from across Manhattan to announce new capital investments being made in the borough’s cultural institutions in the City’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The announcement was made at The Africa Center, which received $7 million in this year’s budget toward its ongoing project to fully build out the Center’s headquarters on Fifth Avenue. Opening its entire 25,000 square-foot ground floor space to the public, The Africa Center project will provide permanent infrastructure including HVAC, upgraded elevators, and climate control for spaces that will host exhibitions, performances, conference center, cafe, and other public uses. As part of the last stop on a five-borough tour, Commissioner Cumbo also highlighted new investments for cultural groups across Manhattan, which received support for a wide range of projects as part of the $222 million in citywide cultural capital funding included in this year’s City budget.
“Our investments in cultural institutions are part of a broader strategy to support the people, organizations, and spaces that make New York City thrive,” said Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer. “The cultural infrastructure that this funding will help to create give our residents access to the transformative enrichment and benefits of arts engagement, and foster safer, healthier, more vibrant communities while attracting visitors from around the world. We’re proud of our support for The Africa Center and for the many cultural gems that keep Manhattan’s cultural community shining brightly.”
“Culture is at the heart of Manhattan’s unparalleled energy and vibrancy, and the City is proud to invest in and partner with arts groups in every corner of the borough to create world-class spaces for programming and community connections,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “With these historic investments from Mayor Adams and our City partners, , we’re committed to ensuring that our cultural community can continue to drive our economy, contribute to our overall health and social wellbeing, and provide audiences with access to the greatest arts programming on the globe.”
"The Africa Center is committed to providing a space for exhibitions, performances, and community gatherings that connect people with the culture of Africa and the diaspora here in New York City," said Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of The Africa Center. "With this new funding from the City, we're so much closer to creating this urgently needed and one-of-a-kind space in the heart of New York, and we're so grateful to Mayor Adams, Commissioner Cumbo, the City Council, and Borough President for investing in our vision."
This announcement was made as part of the Adams administration's "Working People's Tour" to continue creating accessible opportunities as the city sets a record of 4.7 million jobs and starts a new chapter of its economic recovery. Culture is an essential part of New York’s economic vitality, attracting visitors from around the world and creating meaningful jobs for tens of thousands of residents. In 2019, NYC’s creative economy generated $110 billion in total econ impact, $30 billion in wages, and employed 300,000 workers. The event at The Africa Center also featured performances by The People’s Theatre Project and musicians from the Kaufman Music Center, both of which received new capital funding in the City’s FY24 budget.
The $7 million added for The Africa Center’s project in the FY24 budget – including $6.3 million from the Mayor, $400,000 from the City Council, and $250,000 from the Manhattan Borough President - brings the total City investment in the project to date to $11 million and will facilitate the next phase of construction on the organization’s Harlem headquarters. The Africa Center is transforming the world’s understanding of Africa, its Diaspora, and the role of people of African descent in the world. Serving as the hub for the exchange of ideas related to the continent, and in the spirit of collaboration with individuals and institutions who share our values, The Africa Center inspires enthusiasm, advances thought, and empowers action around Africa’s global impact on our collective futures. The Africa Center’s physical presence on Fifth Avenue at the intersection of Harlem and the Museum Mile is a location that embodies the dynamism and diversity of Africa and its Diaspora in the heart of New York City. Caples Jefferson Architects was engaged in 2016 to design the facility, responding to The Africa Center’s ethos as an experimental, inclusive institution fostering business, policy, and cultural exchange locally and globally. To serve the Center’s programming, the New York-based firm designed a receptive, flexible, and expansive structure—its Museum Mile location in East Harlem contextualized architecturally and programmatically.
In the Fiscal Year 2024 budget adopted this year, the City contributed over $222 million to nearly 80 cultural capital projects across the five boroughs, including $117 million from the Mayor, $79.3 million from the City Council, and $26.5 million from the five borough presidents. These investments in new construction, renovations, equipment purchases, and more will help ensure that NYC will continue to have world-class cultural facilities that are open and accessible to all. A number of projects will also enhance the energy efficiency of cultural facilities, a critical priority as New York City continues to address climate change in NYC with a focus on equity, justice, and public health. The previous stops on DCLA’s five-borough tour highlighting FY 2024 capital investments included the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx; the Queens Museum; Sesame Flyers in Brooklyn; and Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island.
In addition to The Africa Center, Manhattan-based cultural groups that received City capital funding in the FY2024 budget include:
“I’m so grateful to have grown up on the Lower East Side, in diverse communities rich with expression and cultural heritage. A healthy ecosystem of arts organizations underpins the vibrancy and allure of New York City, and investments in cultural groups pays dividends. Manhattan is full of world-class institutions and I join in celebrating these capital commitments that bolster the wellbeing of our neighborhoods,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-02).
“The Department of Design and Construction has more than 50 active projects with DCLA valued at over $500 million, working in museums, theaters and cultural centers in every part of the City and we of course welcome funding for future projects that will enhance the arts and learning in New York,” said NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) Commissioner Thomas Foley. “DDC is implementing new contracting and project delivery methods that will allow us to take full advantage of these funds, more than we could under the traditional lowest bidder contracting system. To see that all of our DCLA projects are completed as efficiently as possible, please support capital project reform in Albany.”
“We are tremendously grateful to Mayor Adams, Commissioner Cumbo, and Council Member Erik Bottcher for a total of $3,350,000 in capital funding for IndieSpace Hell's Kitchen,” said Randi Berry, Executive Director of IndieSpace. “IndieSpace Hell's Kitchen will provide rehearsal, performance, co working and community space to itinerant artists that work in indie theater. This incredibly diverse part of the cultural ecosystem is so often left without affordable, accessible and beautiful space to make their art. We are so thrilled for this investment in our work and to be able to provide this HOME for historically excluded and under-resourced artists in NYC.”
"Mayor Adams and Commissioner Cumbo have signaled a real commitment to the City's cultural organizations as a key asset in the recovery and vitality of NYC,” said Capt. Jonathan Boulware, President & CEO of South Street Seaport Museum. “Along with the rest of New York, the South Street Seaport Museum says thank you!"
“New York City’s generous capital funding for New York City Ballet (NYCB) ensures that New Yorkers have exceptional experiences of world-class dance performance in a gracious, secure, and accessible hall,” said Katherine E. Brown, Executive Director of NYCB and the David H. Koch Theater. “The upgrades enabled by the City’s capital funding help keep the David H. Koch Theater safe, welcoming and user-friendly for audiences from across New York City and beyond. With gratitude, we thank Mayor Adams, Commissioner Cumbo, Manhattan Borough President Levine, and Council Member Brewer for their continued commitment to NYCB’s stewardship of our historic home.”
“We are so grateful to the Mayor Adams, Commissioner Cumbo, Borough President Levine, and the City Council for their enduring support of the new Irish Arts Center, including the essential redevelopment of our 51st Street historic home. The vision and investment of the City of New York truly leads the way in making our cultural infrastructure the best it can be for our communities, inspiring other public, institutional and private supporters to follow the City’s lead,” said Aidan Connolly, Executive Director of the Irish Arts Center.
“For nearly nine decades, The Apollo has stood as a vibrant haven for artists and a dynamic force in the performing arts landscape. As we express our deep gratitude to the city of New York, we embark on an exciting journey to elevate The Apollo experience for artists and audiences alike. This generous support ensures that Harlem remains a thriving arts and culture destination, reinforcing The Apollo's unwavering commitment to our community and advancing our mission to shape a 21st-century performing arts legacy,” said Michelle Ebanks, President and CEO of The Apollo.
"The City's audio equipment capital investment in wild project is so important to our organization's growth and stability as a small venue and producing organization, as this grant directly supports the organization's mission to serve historically underrepresented artists and increases cultural accessibility for the East Village and Lower East Side communities,” said Tom Escovar, Producing Director, wild project.
"The great improvement in Theater for the New City's HVAC will allow an important growth in audience for our Theater. We are just now coming out from the isolation of the COVID pandemic and our audience is growing. This capital improvement will allow us to serve them in the heat of summer and the cold of winter, in a way in which we have never before been able to do. And the comfort they will receive, while enjoying the important theater art that Theater for the New City so richly gives, will inspire them to disseminate the knowledge of this great gift from the City. In other words, the neighborhood will thank you. Art at any price, is important. But when Art and Comfort come together, it is an unbeatable combination,” said Crystal Field, Executive Director, Theater for the New City.
“The Lucille Lortel Theatre is dedicated to fostering excellence and diversity in theatre. Our new location on West 18th Street will provide a state-of-the-art venue for artists to develop, explore, and produce cutting edge work. We are deeply appreciative for the City’s ongoing partnership and support for this important project,” said The Lucille Lortel Theatre Executive Director George S. Forbes.
"We are pleased to have received $1.127 million in capital funding from the Mayor, City Council, and Manhattan Borough President in FY24, and thank Commissioner Laurie Cumbo for her advocacy and for strengthening the City’s vibrant cultural life. This funding provides critical support to a project that will upgrade and update interior and exterior lighting at the New 42 Studios, a building that has fostered the creation of some of the most recognizable Broadway and Off-Broadway plays and musicals for over 20 years. Our new systems will lead the way in energy efficiency in Times Square, meeting or exceeding local energy laws, while enhancing visibility of an award-winning building,” Russell Granet, President & CEO of the New 42nd Street, Inc.
"American Ballet Theatre and Ballet Tech proudly announce a significant project that will greatly enhance a landmark building that is at the heart of New York City's artistic legacy. With the generous support of a $2 million capital grant from the Department of Cultural Affairs under the stewardship of Commissioner Cumbo and Mayor Adams, we will expand, renovate, and upgrade the most prominent public spaces at 890 Broadway, a building that not only houses our two institutions, but that has seen the birth and development of countless works of live theater, dance, and music. As co-owners of this historic edifice, we are deeply grateful for the city's investment, which will rejuvenate the building, keeping it alive for continued creation of both art and artists. We extend our heartfelt appreciation for helping make this pivotal project a reality as we dance towards a brighter, more accessible future" said Susan Jaffe, Artistic Director of American Ballet Theatre and Maggie Christ, Executive Director of Ballet Tech.
“The arts are intrinsic to New York City’s vibrancy and vitality, and the City of New York’s unmatched investment in the local arts ecosystem undergirds its strength and well-being. We are deeply grateful to Mayor Eric Adams, DCLA Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and our Council Members Erik Bottcher and Keith Powers, and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine for supporting the renovation of MTC’s historic Samuel J. Friedman Theatre. City funds will play a transformational role in updating the Friedman Theatre’s critical health and safety systems, ensuring that it can continue to be a safe, welcoming, and environmentally sustainable destination for New Yorkers of all ages and backgrounds, and create a home on Broadway for new plays that reflect the rich diversity of people and stories that make New York City so great,” said Manhattan Theatre Club Executive Director Chris Jennings.
“We are deeply grateful for the city’s support, which will allow us to maintain and upgrade the lighting in the iconic Revson Fountain. We hope the Fountain is a beacon – a place to reflect, celebrate, and to make and experience art. For the past two summers, the Fountain and its summer dance partner, a 10’ disco ball, have been home for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to share the connection and joy the arts provide. We’re proud to welcome audiences from across the City to the Fountain, and to hundreds of free events every year. Our deepest thanks to the Administration, Commissioner Cumbo, Speaker Adams, Borough President Levine, Council Member Brewer, and Manhattan Delegation Co-Chair Council Member Bottcher,” said Leah C. Johnson, Executive Vice President, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
"We are proud to be a part of the vibrant cultural landscape of Manhattan and a home for children, families, dancers, artists, and educators here in Harlem. It is with great honor that we thank our city government officials who have invested in National Dance Institute (NDI) with a capital grant to provide a much-needed theatrical lighting system for our performance space. This lighting system will allow the young dancers, emerging artists, and seasoned professionals who we serve reach new heights of artistry and innovation,” said Jermaine Jones, Executive Director of National Dance Institute.
"DCLA’s unwavering support and advocacy are deeply meaningful, particularly as we work collectively to revitalize the arts and culture sector of New York City," said Symphony Space Executive Director Kathy Landau. "As an anchor institution on the Upper West Side, Symphony Space is profoundly grateful for this vital funding and DCLA's partnership, which bolster our programs—both on our stages and in our classrooms across the City. Thanks to the vital leadership of Commissioner Cumbo, Symphony Space remains a beacon for art, ideas, and community,” said Symphony Space Executive Director Kathy Landau.
"As a 71 year-old organization dedicated to creating community and understanding through photography, Aperture is fulfilling a long-term vision for our future with a new, permanent home on the Upper West Side,” said Sarah Meister, Executive Director, Aperture. “This New York City funding supports the renovation of two floors of a landmarked building at 380 Columbus Avenue into a highly visible and accessible anchor for Aperture’s programming and publications. We thank Mayor Adams, DCLA Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, and our Councilmember Gale A. Brewer not only for the capital investment in our space, but for recognizing Aperture’s critical role in bringing together the array of artists, writers, students, and enthusiasts that are transformed by photography every day.”
“As the first museum in the city, the New-York Historical Society strongly believes that a vibrant arts and culture sector is integral to the fabric of New York and essential as we strive to give voice to the multiplicity of cultures and identities that define our community. We are so grateful to the Department of Cultural Affairs for its continued support of our nearly 80,000-square-foot new Democracy Wing and renovation project. This project will allow us to continue to illuminate important aspects of our history through our education programs and exhibitions and will house the first-ever home for the American LGBTQ+ Museum,” said New-York Historical Society President and CEO Louise Mirrer.
“The 92nd Street Y, New York thanks Mayor Adams, Commissioner Cumbo, and Manhattan Borough President Levine for the transformative FY24 capital support of the 92NY Art Center. This significant investment will enable us to modernize our Fine Arts, Ceramics, and Jewelry Studios and provide a welcoming and accessible experience in the arts for people of all ages and abilities. We are so grateful for this support and what it means to the thousands of people who express their creativity, learn skills, find joy, and build community through the 92NY Art Center,” said Seth Pinsky, CEO, The 92nd Street Y, New York.
“As New York City Center celebrates its 80th season, we are particularly grateful to the City’s generous investment in our beautiful landmarked building in the heart of Manhattan,” said Micheal S. Rosenberg, New York City Center President and CEO. “Thanks to a total of $1,921,000 in capital funding for the 2024 fiscal year, City Center will continue to be an accessible and welcoming home for all New Yorkers to experience the best in theater, dance, and music at affordable prices for another 80 years.”
"Jazz at Lincoln Center is grateful to the City of New York for recent, pivotal capital investments in Frederick P. Rose Hall, The House of Swing. These recent capital grants from Commissioner Cumbo and DCLA, and Borough President Levine and the NY City Council, help to ensure that The House of Swing remains a vital cultural destination for New Yorkers as well as visitors from all over the world. As we approach next year’s 20th anniversary of the opening Frederick P. Rose Hall, we remain deeply grateful for City support and we are reminded of the instrumental role the City played in 2004 in helping us to open our Hall and its world-class performance and educational venues: Rose Theater, the Appel Room, Dizzy’s Club, Ertegun Atrium and Jazz Hall of Fame, Agnes Varis and Karl Leichtman Studio, and Menschel and Sharp Arcades," said Greg Scholl, Executive Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
“Kaufman Music Center is deeply grateful to the City of New York for its significant capital investment in our HVAC system. This incredibly generous support will enable essential renovations that will make the teaching and learning spaces of our home, the Abraham Goodman House, safer and more comfortable so that students, artists and audience members of all ages and backgrounds can experience the joy of music and the performing arts for many years to come. We thank Mayor Eric Adams, Commissioner of Cultural Affairs Laurie Cumbo, the New York City Council and Council Member Gale A. Brewer, and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine for this vital investment,” said Kate Sheeran, Executive Director of Kaufman Music Center.
"The vibrant dance community in NYC needs increased access to affordable spaces in which to rehearse, create, and perform. Thanks to the tremendous leadership support of Mayor Eric Adams, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, DCLA Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, City Council Members Erik Bottcher, Carlina Rivera, and Chi Osse, and Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, The Joyce Theater’s New York Center for Creativity & Dance in the East Village is poised to become a space to meet the many needs of thousands of artists. The arts are the heart of New York City: with the City's support, more artists will continue to flourish and make work that will enrich our city for years to come,” said Linda Shelton, Executive Director of The Joyce Theater.
“The Public Theater operates on the belief that art and culture belongs to everyone. We are deeply grateful and appreciative to our partners at the City for supporting The Public’s capital projects in the FY24 budget,” said Patrick Willingham, Executive Director at The Public Theater. “These allocations ensure The Public Theater will be able to provide free and accessible programming to New Yorkers both downtown at Astor Place and in Central Park at The Delacorte Theater. Thank you, again, to Councilmember Carlina Rivera, Councilmember Gale Brewer, Councilmember Chi Ossé, Speaker Adams, Commissioner Laurie Cumbo and Mayor Adams.”
About the 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. For more information visit www.nyc.gov/culture.