News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: March 30, 2018

Contact:         Ryan Max,; 212-513-9323


Pilot Professional Development Program Supports Aspiring Leaders from Diverse Backgrounds in Advancing Careers in NYC Cultural Organizations

Building on the CreateNYC Cultural Plan, Leadership Accelerator Pilot Uses a Curriculum Developed by CUNY’s School of Professional Studies to Engage Up to 25 Mid-Level Professionals

Open Call for Applications Runs through Friday, April 13 at 11:59PM

New York – The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) today announced an open call for applicants to the pilot CreateNYC: Leadership Accelerator program. For this pilot, the program will utilize a curriculum developed by the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS) to engage up to 25 mid-level professionals in a five-week professional development course. The goal is to support cultural workers from diverse backgrounds as they seek to grow into leadership positions across the city’s vibrant cultural sector.

“Our cultural sector is at the core of who we are as New Yorkers, and making sure that cultural organizations can engage with our extraordinarily diverse and growing population means opening it up to everyone, at every level,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “With this pilot training program, we take aim at some of the barriers we’ve seen preventing people with diverse backgrounds from becoming leaders within our community, and making decisions that will guide our sector for generations to come. We thank CUNY for their partnership, and encourage cultural workers to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.”

The CreateNYC: Leadership Accelerator is designed to promote diversity and equity in the cultural workforce. It will provide a professional development opportunity for mid-level cultural workers that will help to strengthen the management skills that are integral to career growth and mobility, and to build a diverse network of peers who can support one another as they develop into future leaders. Participants will examine systemic challenges that exist in the workplace and exchange ideas for promoting equity in the cultural workforce. Program curriculum was developed by CUNY SPS and the CUNY Creative Arts Team. For the pilot, up to 25 participants will be selected, and each will take part in five full day training sessions that will occur this spring. More information is available here.

“Guaranteeing access and equity within the City’s cultural sector is a central tenet of CreateNYC and this new program brings us closer to this goal,” said Council Member Van Bramer, Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries. “The CreateNYC: Leadership Accelerator program will help ensure that those who work in the cultural sector are able to grow and advance in their careers and open a dialogue about promoting equity within the cultural workforce. I am really proud of the CreateNYC Cultural Plan and happy to see programs like this come to life.”

“I applaud the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the CUNY School of Professional Studies for creating this pilot program. I have called for increasing the presence and hiring of more people of color within CUNY and throughout NYC agencies. This new initiative is a step in the right direction to create more opportunities that will identify and move qualified Black and Latino people into more leadership positions,” said Council Member Inez Barron.

“I am delighted that CUNY SPS is able to help provide this professional development opportunity, which will lead to more diverse leadership in cultural institutions throughout New York City,” said CUNY SPS Dean John Mogulescu.  “As one of the major cultural centers of the world, it is important that our City serve as an example of access and inclusion in these organizations.” 

A 2016 demographic study of cultural organizations funded by DCLA found that junior and mid-level professionals were far more diverse than organization leadership. While 55% of junior staff and 68% of mid-level staff identified as white, 74% of senior staff did, suggesting that people of color face unique barriers to advancement into leadership positions within the cultural sector. DCLA’s commitment to a diverse workforce also encompasses people with disabilities, all genders, immigrant populations, and other underserved and underrepresented groups. During the public engagement process for CreateNYC, many junior and mid-level cultural workers cited lack of opportunity for professional development as a major challenge, so the “Equity & Inclusion” chapter of the cultural plan recommends that the City “begin new efforts to support the professional development and career advancement of cultural workers from underrepresented groups.” This new pilot initiative seeks to address these pressing needs and help foster a more inclusive cultural workforce, while making progress toward a key CreateNYC goal.

The CreateNYC: Leadership Accelerator joins a range of efforts by DCLA to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in NYC’s cultural workforce:

  • The CUNY Cultural Corps, launched in 2016, provides paid internships for CUNY students at dozens of cultural organizations across the city. To date, the program has placed 230 students in such positions in all five boroughs.
  • Through the Theater Subdistrict Council, the City directed over $2 million to support diversity in theater, a discipline that faces particular challenges to fostering a workforce that reflects the city’s diverse population.
  • DCLA provided $1 million to members of the Cultural Institutions Group to support diversity-driven programs and initiatives.
  • The CreateNYC cultural plan, released by Mayor de Blasio in 2017, lays out an ambitious set of strategies and objectives for achieving greater diversity, equity, and inclusion at all levels of the cultural sector.

Individuals interested in learning more or applying to the CreateNYC: Leadership Accelerator program should visit DCLA’s website.  

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. For more information visit