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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Appoints Tom Finkelpearl as Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner

April 7, 2014

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Well, this is truly a joyous day. It’s a joyous day for all of New York City. It’s a joyous day for the cultural community of our city. It is a joyous day for the borough of Queens. And all of the stars have come out. People have come out from all over to be a part of this event. It marks an important day in the evolution of our administration and all the efforts that we want to make on behalf of the people of this city.

I’ve got a lot of people to thank and acknowledge. Let me start with the most important person in my life, our first lady, Chirlane McCray.


I want to thank all of the elected officials who are here. Our borough president was here. She was dealing with her son. Is she still here? She’s somewhere around her, okay. I’d like to thank current Borough President Melinda Katz and former Borough President Claire Shulman. The council member who not only represents part of Queens but is the chair of the cultural affairs committee, Jimmy Van Bramer, Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Council Member Liz Crowley. All right, I don’t have my glasses on. Have I missed any elected officials? I hear a voice – Lori Cumbo of Brooklyn. Lori ran a cultural institution before getting elected to the city council. It’s a new model. If you don’t like what’s happening at city hall, run for office.

I want to thank all of our colleagues who are here. I want to thank Margaret Morton, who’s been the acting DCLA commissioner.


Thank you for your great efforts


A lot of great leaders of the cultural sector of this city are here today. And I want to acknowledge them all. I want to give a special thank you to a dear friend who I have turned to for guidance many times over the years. He’s never steered me wrong and I want to just offer my public appreciation to him – Arnold Lehman, the director of the Brooklyn Museum


Let’s welcome Klause Bisenbach of PS 1 MOMA.


Thelma Golden of the Studio Museum.


Peter Mayer, who is upset with me because he’s President of the Board of the Queens Museum.


Christian Samper of the Wildlife Conservation Society.


And I know there’s a lot of other VIPs around, and if we’ve missed you we’ll make sure – we’ll try and get you in the course of the program. Let me note many wonderful organizations that are present, representing the diversity of cultural organizations all over this city, including the Corona Youth Orchestra.


The Laundromat Project, Topaz Arts –


All right,now I’m ready to add to my use of Spanish and Italian. Let’s see if I can do it right. L’Education du Regard.


Did I say it right? Okay. Merci Beaucoup.


El Puente and Green Light Project.


So, there’s a lot to say today. Let me say it quickly. The reason there’s such energy and enthusiasm is because we’re taking a great step forward today for our entire cultural sector by naming a leader for our department of cultural affairs, who really represents not only the finest in achievement in a cultural institution and how we build out our cultural sector in this city in a exemplary manner, but also represents the values of this administration – to make arts something for everyone, to reach all across the five boroughs, every neighborhoods, people of every background, and bring them in deeply into the extraordinary cultural life of this city.

We understand – and I want to say this at the outset, something that Tom Finkelpearl and I have talked about and we really have a meeting of the minds on. We understand arts and culture in many lights. Some are tempted to reduce it to an economic engine for this city, and there’s no doubt it is that. But first and foremost, it’s a moral grounding for the City of New York. Part of why we are as great as we are is the arts and culture that thrive here.


I think it’s safe to say that you can’t have a flourishing democracy without a strong cultural sector, without the ability of artists of all kinds to express themselves, to challenge us, to make us think, to provoke us. And to help us understand what the societal discourse may or may not include. And so I think first of the extraordinary rich cultural life of this city as something that makes us who we are. We’ve always been a global center of creativity. We’ve always been a place that attracted creative thinkers, alternative thinkers, people who were ready to do the impossible. And this place has nurtured that, has thought it was important. It’s never shunned those who had something different to contribute. And it’s something we have to preserve and build on.

And yes, on top of that, this cultural sector – the institutions, the artists, all the cultural figures of this city, all that rich history – yes, it is part of what attracts people to this city to build businesses. It is part of what attracts tourists. It is something that undergirds so much of our economy. But I think it mostly undergirds our soul. I think it mostly undergirds our identity. And it’s what makes New York so special, so strong, so energetic, so resilient.

And that’s why it was important to choose a leader for the Department of Cultural Affairs who could continue that tradition and deepen it. And I think I found the right man.


Now I am a proud Brooklynite, but – we’ve got  some Brooklynites here too – but it is a true statement, and one that Queens should be very proud of, that Queens is the most racially and ethnically diverse of the cities boroughs. And by many measures, the most diverse county in the United States of America, something Queens really should be proud of.

And this museum –


This museum exemplifies Queens. It exemplifies all that’s good about this borough. And it’s always been a special place. Chirlane and I just went to look at the panorama. The panorama has fascinated people for generations. It’s one of the great exhibits here, one of the things that makes this museum special.

But in recent years this museum became so much more. It became even better. It became even better. It became bigger. It became more central to the life of Queens.  And it became a museum that connected more deeply to the neighborhoods around it. And that’s all because there was a visionary leader.

When Tom Finkelpearl looked at this museum, he saw all that was good about it. He saw all that was good about Queens and he said, ‘Let’s do even more. Let’s deepen the connection between this museum and the people of this borough. Let’s make it even more relevant to the lives of the people. Let’s make arts and culture something that everyone can tap into and feel is theirs.’ And he proceeded to actually achieve this vision.

I can tell you when you’re making a choice on someone to lead an agency, you need vision and you need the ability to follow through in action. And Tom Finkelpearl proved to me that he knew how to do both. And what you see around you is evidence. And this is one of the jewels in the crown of this borough. And we all owe a great debt of gratitude to Tom for what he’s achieved.

Now going forward, the work of the Department of Cultural Affairs is, of course, to support and strengthen the vibrant cultural life of this city. There’s many ways to do that, including the funding that we provide to non-profit cultural organizations, both large and small, in all five boroughs. But there’s so many other things that we can do to help deepen our support for the arts and culture, to help make sure that support reaches every neighborhood, every kind of institution. And to make sure that creative minds in each and every neighborhood get nurtured and supported. And we’ve seen that happen here at the Queens Museum.  It’s a great model of all that we want to do going forward.

And Tom adopted a one word mission statement for this museum. I admire your economy there. We elected officials don’t believe in one word mission statements.


Why use so few words when you could use so many more? Isn’t that right, Marty? Marty Markowitz.


I want to say – and we’re thrilled that Marty Markowitz has come back to join the city government at NYC & Company to foster outer borough tourism.


Well here at the Queens Museum, the one word mission – openness. Openness, it meant to make it a museum for everyone, make it a place that everyone felt comfortable. Make it a place where everyone could learn and think together. And Tom had an idea that wasn’t just about the physical building, it was about the connection to the community. It was about starting a real dialogue, making arts and culture something that uplifted people’s everyday lives. It’s not rarified in Tom’s vision. It’s urgent, it’s immediate, it’s personal. It’s something that connects to people in the way they live. And that connects entirely to my vision of where we want to see the Department of Cultural Affairs go and see it as something that can touch and support the lives of every New Yorker.

Now, I have to say, Tom brings with him a deep and abiding appreciation for this borough. When we met he spoke constantly of his love for this place, what he had learned from the people of Queens, what he had learned in the neighborhoods of Queens. And it was clear to me that that experience framed in him an understanding of what it means to bring arts and culture to the people, to bring the people to every arts and culture institution. To make sure that all doors are open.

And I know that as our new cultural affairs commissioner, he’ll continue to innovate. He’ll continue to do the kinds of things he did here. Here at this museum, he had the idea that if you actually want to connect with people of all communities, you hire someone who knows how to do that. He hired a community organizer. He brought someone in who literally went out to the people –


Went out to Corona and surrounding neighborhoods and said, ‘This museum is for you. This museum matters in your life and it could do so much for you. And that defines so much of what Tom’s done throughout his career.

And it is a rich career. Beginning at Long Island City’s P.S. 1 Contemporary Arts Center. He started out there. He then went to the Department of Cultural Affairs. Getting ready now for his second tour there. In 1990 he joined the Department of Cultural Affairs as the director of one of the most wonderful things New York City does, the One Percent for Art program. And at that time, oversaw more than 100 public arts projects across all five boroughs.

He then went to Maine because he needed a break from it all, to the renowned Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. And then after that returned to P.S. 1 and helped it as it managed its merger with MOMA in the year 2000. And then in 2002 became executive director of this wonderful museum.

And by the way for all of you wondering, is he just someone who appreciates arts and culture? Is he someone who just wanted to foster it for others? No, a working artist himself by background. Tom’s personal training is as a sculptor. He brings that extraordinary sense of doing the work himself – of seeing art from the ground floor – to the work he does all over this city.

So, and I can think of no one who will be more dedicated to DCLA’s cause or promoting and advocating for quality arts programming than Tom. And I can think of no one who’ll do more to expand the city’s rich cultural opportunities for all New Yorkers. He also has a very strong passion for something I care about deeply, increasing arts programs in our schools, something I unequivocally support.


And there are some people who only can think conventionally. And then there are others who live perennially outside the box. Tom Finkelpearl is one of the latter category. Wherever he goes, he innovates, he creates, he does things that weren’t supposed to be possible. And that’s exactly what we need for our new commissioner for the Department of Cultural Affairs. Let’s welcome Tom Finkelpearl.


Tom Finkelpearl, incoming Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs: Thank you, thank you so much. Well thank – I feel very elevated on this step here. And – so the people who actually hired me for this job are in the room today. And I’ve been here for 12 years. And they’re the people who made the first decision, I guess, to think about this museum – and I feel like that the museum was already apparent at the – the search committee level, at the discussions. But the other thing is that the people who I then hired to do all the great stuff that the mayor just mentioned are here. And, you know, as the director I have a kind of general overall sense. But, you know, the community organizers and the art therapists and the immigrant outreach specialists on our staff, they’re all standing in this room. The curators, the people who actually keep the building open and clean and lit and so I just – you know, I feel a little ashamed to be taking credit for all the incredible ideas that people have brought to me and executed. So the staff of the Queens Museum, I just wanted to thank you.


So over the last couple of weeks I’ve had a couple of lengthy conversations with the mayor in preparation for this – you know, applying for this job. And I think that what he just said is exactly what we talked about, that we share some basic values about the arts and the role of arts in society. And that DCLA or their public function – there are many different functions that art serves – should be about inclusion, openness, opportunity. And it was really great to stand in the panorama with the first lady and the mayor and look at the whole city. And see the – you know, every corner of this city needs to have art, not just, you know, the larger institutions. But there’s – we fully believe in the value of the larger institutions. Some of the greatest works of art are held in these collections.

But when I see [inaudible] running Corona Youth Orchestra, and when you go and you watch the kids in Corona and their dedication to learning classical music and what happens to families in those moments when that’s happening, that’s transformative. And that’s as important as anything that happens on Fifth Avenue. By the way, that happens on Fifth Avenue as well. Nothing against Fifth Avenue at all. I’ve been to Manhattan many times.


I do joke around. By the way, my wife I’d also like to acknowledge is curator – contemporary curator –


– working at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. And so I love Brooklyn. I love the [inaudible.

So as the mayor was saying earlier on, there are different ways to look at the value of art. And there’s the individual level. And by the way, art and culture, said inclusively. This includes [inaudible], this includes the gardens and the zoos and the – the kind of personal experience that people have when they’re in the presence of a great work of art or a beautiful display or an incredible theatrical presentation. And there’s something personal that happens and that has – good for the soul.

There’s the big picture economic argument, that’s been made very well and is absolutely correct, that people come to New York City to look at art, to experience art and culture more broadly. It’s great for the economy. But there’s  a middle ground which has to do with the social value on the community level. And I think that this is an argument that hasn’t been well made by the city. But if you look again, what happens on the community level with artists in all the neighborhoods of New York City, there’s something extremely valuable, moving, that’s good for communities. And I intend to try to understand how we can best express that value.

The other thing is –


– that there’s simply nothing more important to the life of the arts than artists. And there’s one person up here that hasn’t been mentioned, so [inaudible] is a gentleman who moved from China to Queens – happy to say – who is absolutely brilliant artist, who has expressed important issues around contemporary Chinese issues, etcetera, who is an incredible painter, who can make a Van Gogh look like a Chinese brush painting – or a Chinese brush painting look like a Van Gogh. And I’m just – I’m so proud to have an artist been working on a major show, so [inaudible], representing all artists in New York City is on this stage as well.


Commissioner Finkelpearl: And I know it’s really extremely bad form to start to recognize people, but I simply couldn’t not recognize some of the elected officials in Queens who have been instrumental in helping me make this decision. And just, you know, Jimmy van Bramer has been the leader of the Committee on Culture –


Commissioner Finkelpearl: One of the gentlemen who continued to ask me about this position long after others had stopped. And then just, I feel like every cultural institution would be elevated to the next level up if they had a city councilmember like Julissa Ferrerras as their partner.


Commissioner Finkelpearl: And that brings me to the last thing I wanted to say, which is that this institution has many people coming here. We’re looking at a – maybe a 50 percent increase in our attendance with our new facility. But we’re also dedicated to the idea of working outside our walls. And there’s an incredible program with the department of transportation of New York City called the Plaza Program. Julissa has been instrumental in opening one of those plazas here in Corona, and we’ve been the programming partner of that. And of the things that I’d like to do as commissioner is look at the other kinds of collaborations across departments, maybe – I can’t start the list yet – but we’ve actually started talking about it. But nothing has been settled, so I’ll learn now, let’s check this out before I start talking about it. So with that, I will conclude my remarks.


Mayor: I’d like to paraphrase Sally Field by saying Tom, they like you. They really, really like you.


Mayor: Karen liked that joke, so with that, we will welcome questions. We’re going to take on topic only, since we had a separate press avail earlier today. We’re going to do on topic only, fire away.

Question: So you kind of talked about moving away from the economic driver.

Mayor: No. We didn’t say that, but keep going.

Question: So tourism dollars. These institutions generate a lot of tourism dollars. How is that going to play out in your budget? What is your funding going to look like if you want to also incorporate these other initiatives?

Mayor: Well first of all, what I was trying to say – I’ll try and get it clearer here – is that we don’t see the arts and culture sector solely through the prism of economics. It plays a much bigger role than just being a driver of employment or something that attracts tourist dollars. Yes, that’s very true, more true than ever before. And if you’re looking at the future of the New York City economy, you have to recognize the cultural sector is literally more important than ever before in our history. But I am trying to sort of put the horse before the cart and say the impact of culture on our society is first and foremost about what it does in terms of human enrichment, of uplifting the human experience. Expressing what we’re all about, bringing people together is a great unifying impact of culture, helping people to understand each other across all sorts of boundaries. And again, I think it’s one of the underpinnings of a healthy democracy. So I’m trying to say first let’s look at sort of the more universal, more fundamental reality of culture and what it’s meant to the identity of this city, then talk about the economic impact. In terms of the budget process, we’re coming out with an executive budget in a few weeks. And this is going to be obviously an important area we look at, I’m trying to figure out what’s the right way to approach it against a backdrop of fiscal challenges. It’s not a state secret that we have a variety of challenges we’re facing. But I can say that Tom’s going to be right in the middle of those discussions, and obviously he’ll play a strong role in helping us figure out the best way we can continue to support our cultural sector. And I think he made an important point at the end there, there’s a lot of ways beyond direct funding that we can foster and support cultural institutions. And we want to look at every way we have to do so. Yes?

Question: How will you approach figuring out the state of some institutions that have been in limbo, like the South Street Seaport Museum or the Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center?

Mayor: Well, I’m going to turn to Tom throughout that process, and he’s obviously going to be the lead voice of the administration on cultural issues. You know, we want to understand those decisions in part from a community perspective. And I’ll offer my thoughts, and then feel free to jump in. You know, I’m someone – for example, in the case of South Street – that thinks that that’s been a very crucial part of New York City for a long time. That museum exemplifies a really important part of our history and helps us connect to a lot of who we are. And I’d love to make sure we do everything in our power to help protect it. But that’s something I’ll look to Tom to take the lead on, to figure out the best way to protect the institutions we have. Want to add?

Commissioner Finkelpearl: I mean I can simply say that I’m ready to dive into those issues. Even though I have a – I’m a homeowner in Queens, I have a place in Rockaway, but I live in Lower Manhattan. And I know the Seaport Museum very well. I understand the value of these institutions but I haven’t yet formed an opinion to make a recommendation to the mayor. But absolutely ready to dive into this, with some personal knowledge for many years.

Mayor: Rich?

Question: Mr. Mayor, do you consider yourself an artist in any way? You know, George W. Bush paints.

Mayor: So you know, Rich, I avoid all comparisons to George W. Bush.


Mayor: Except, I hope you want to have a beer with me. That’s about the only one. I am not an artist, but I married an artist. I married a poet, and back in the day, used to do performance art too. I know the history. So I married an artistically minded woman, but I myself have not endeavored. Yes?

Question: The city comptroller came out with a report, I guess overnight or this morning, recommending $26 million for hiring of arts teachers in public schools. Do you think we might see this in your executive budget?

Mayor: Let me start, and again, Tom jump in any time you like. I said last year that we have to not only understand and respect the role of arts and culture in our schools – and do more to support it – but we also have to recognize there’s a state law mandating us to that has been often ignored. So we will get there. I’m sure we’ll get there all in one jump, but we will get there over time. But something I’m also excited about is what we’re going to be able to do with our after school programs, now that we have made real progress in terms of the funding of both pre-K and after school. We intend to see a very powerful arts and culture element in the after school programming. I think it’s fair to say, and I bet I have a lot of witnesses here in the room, that in terms of energizing our young people – giving them a sense of positive purpose, giving them a sense of their own possibilities – one of the most powerful tools is to connect them to arts and culture. And I have seen a lot of young people’s lives transformed, I’ve seen a lot of young people find their love of other types of learning, first through arts and culture, and experiencing that as sort of the gateway to some many other things. So we think it’s a crucial part of what we want to do with after school. Do you want to add?

Commissioner Finkelpearl: Yes. And so, I had a quick chance to look at that report today, and of the – it’s not just that we’re not in compliance; it’s that we’re not in compliance in particular neighborhoods. And lower-income neighborhoods are particularly hard hit by the lack of art teachers and spaces for art-making in the school. So that obviously is something that would be great to mitigate. I’m a big advocate for arts in the schools. But I wanted to say also, we’ve worked with an organization called Cool Culture, which brings low-income families into museums. It’s an incredible organization, and I have been talking to a lot of people as they walk into the museum since we’ve reopened. And a lot of those families kind of understand that availability of culture through Cool Culture, which is great, but it also underscores the lack of other opportunity or access points for low-income families to culture. And one of those problems is a lack within those public schools.

Mayor: Vicki?

Question: We are an international borough and very proud of it. Do you have any idea of working about – through getting more international exchange and expediting the international exchange of art, so we can bring these cultures’ art to our city more easily?

Mayor: You want to be even more international? Always reaching for the stars, Vicki. I admire that.

Commissioner Finkelpearl: Well, I will say, we’re looking – behind us is a wonderful artist from Mexico City, Pedro Reyes’s exhibition. So there’s a lot of international – I will say also that NYC and Company, I think, has been looking more carefully at outer borough tourism. We had the whole team from NYC and Company here at the Queens Museum last week. So I think that there’s a broad sense, and maybe not spurred on by the mayor, but understanding the mayor’s vision of the five borough agenda for everything – that there could be more international travel here within the outer boroughs, the other boroughs. Did I say outer borough? Don’t take that –

Mayor: It’s okay. It’s one of those things, there’s no right way to do it. Okay, we have to come up with a whole new language.


Mayor: Let’s say the most populous boroughs, that would cover Brooklyn and Queens, okay. Yes?

Question: I know the South Street Seaport Museum was already touched on, and Mr. Finkelpearl said that there have been preliminary discussions on what sites or institutions would be looked at. But are there maybe any institutions, specifically in Queens, that maybe have floated to the top of the list of what you guys would go after first to try and improve? And a second part, this is the 50th anniversary of one of the biggest global cultural gatherings in this city and in this country’s history. Will the 50th anniversary and all of the celebrations that are going to happen here over a six-month time period in the summer be a heavy focus?

Mayor: I’ll let you speak to the second piece, but on the first piece – I think, look, we don’t come to this with like a short list of institutions that we’re focused on. I think we come to it with a broader philosophy, that one – we have some of the most amazing cultural institutions anywhere on the earth, and we want them to be accessible to all. We want everyone from every corner of the city to experience them. And this is something Tom speaks with great passion about – I particularly love this story – I think it was about your grandmother? And you should give that story, because it’s very powerful, about a sense of all cultural institutions as places for every kind of person. And that’s something we really want to keep working to deepen. And then second, is an understanding of the extraordinary community based organizations that have developed over the years. Some have come to great prominence, some have not. And they may be only locally well-known in their neighborhood, but they still perform a crucial role in people’s lives. And we want to see what we can do to help them grow and reach even more people. So I think it’s about a philosophy rather than some kind of a list. It’s about wanting to – and it’s also about, by the way, engaging community leaders to figure out with them – and great examples here of elected officials who care deeply about the arts. What will help in their neighborhoods to connect their people more deeply to the arts.

Commissioner Finkelpearl: And so, what the mayor was referring to is that about 100 years ago, my grandmother came from Hungary to the United States, young immigrant girl living on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which is where Hungarians lived at that time – in sort of Yorkville. And she went to the Met on a routine basis as a middle school kid, just walked right into the Met, she thought it was her place. It was one of the things that infused our family with culture. And I just feel that that – you know, that’s happening here today – that a young immigrant family might walk right into the Queens Museum. And just that feeling that culture is for everybody, and the public institutions are truly embracing public institutions is one of the beauties of New York City. And that’s, you know, to make the public institutions as public as possible is certainly we talked about.

Question: I just – I wonder, in looking at the smaller organizations that you referred to, and those that are not in Manhattan, would you say that – is it your view that they’ve been neglected somewhat by DCA or by the city, in favor of the larger, more mainstream Manhattan cultural institutions? 

Mayor: Let me offer a more benevolent formulation. I think the history of New York City is that sometimes four boroughs didn’t get the recognition they deserved. I don’t think that’s particular to one administration or one party. I think it’s a broader reality. The vast majority of us have lived in four boroughs, and in those four boroughs, developed extraordinary arts and cultural institutions – some well-known, some very grassroots, that never got the larger acclaim they might have deserved. But they really connected to the people. Even some of the biggest institutions, like the Queens Museum, like the Brooklyn Museum, have been exemplary in terms of reaching out to every kind of person in their boroughs. So there are wonderful models that we want to support. And we certainly want a five borough approach to arts and culture, and we want to do better. It’s not so much about decrying the past, as saying we know we can do better and we know we can have an approach that really represents all of New York City today. And that’s what we’re focused on. Yes?

Question: Will you consider reallocating capital funds that the Bloomberg administration has allocated to culture projects? For example, $75 million he allocated last year to the Culture Shed in the west side?

Mayor: Well I think the broad template that we have in terms of capital funding, you’ve seen this in some other areas as well, is that we want to take a fresh look at everything. It just is the nature of a new administration. Because we want to make sure that the funding commitments align to our values. So we’re talking about, in terms of all of the capital budget, obviously billions and billions of dollars that have been projected many years ahead, and we want to make sure that we think it’s an effective use of money. We want to make sure that we think it’s a project that’s actually going to happen – I’m not talking about that one, I’m talking about any project. And obviously, what we think is the best approach in terms of serving the most people. So that’s a broad statement. The capital budget is now about four weeks away. That’s the time when we’ll unveil a lot of detail. So we’re broadly open minded, but we’re not speaking about specific projects at this point.

Question: I have a question about the proposed LG tower that would ruin the view from the Palisades. Cuomo, Schumer, and Schneiderman are [inaudible] out, saying this should be stopped. I’m wondering if the administration has any position on that?

Mayor: Well, this member of the administration doesn’t. I have not heard anyone else take a position. I’ve heard the issue raised before, we just haven’t had a chance to look at it and look at the ramifications. So, don’t have one at this point in time, but we will definitely get back to you on that. In the back, we’ve got two more, and then we’ll be done. One, two.

Question: Commissioner, you mentioned that you have a house in Rockaway. Does the growing arts and cultural community in Rockaway give you any guidance or thoughts about expanding or helping communities like that expand around the city?

Commissioner Finkelpearl: By the way, I share my dual home status with [inaudible] also has a place in Rockaway. I think that there’s a lot to be learned in Rockaway, there’s a lot of issues always when artists are infused in a community. I’m not sure that there are specific lessons to be learned in Rockaway that could be translated to other places. It’s a very unique situation with its own history, a lot of vacancy, etcetera, which might be quite different from different places. But anyway, I would say that generally speaking, arts moving into neighborhoods can have a variety of different effects – not of all which are good for everybody in every neighborhood. And that’s something we’ll look at very carefully. And that’s something I’ve been witnessing very closely. I’ve had a place in Rockaway since 2005, I believe. I’m looking at my wife, she’s saying yes.

Mayor: Looking at the third base umpire – yes.

Commissioner Finkelpearl: So I’m very invested in that, but I don’t know if you can take generalizations from that particular context.

Mayor: Alright, last call. Right there.

Question: For Tom, the previous mayor had extra cash lying around that he could infuse to the arts. How do you manage to be commissioner without –


Commissioner Finkelpearl: Well I think that at some level – here’s my first off topic – that if you look at the Commissioner Kate Levin and the Mayor Bloomberg, and then look at us, it’s quite different because she was so much taller than he was.


Commissioner Finkelpearl: Well look, the thing is that the Bloomberg Philanthropy is still here. It’s not that Bloomberg went away or is giving up on New York City. And I feel that the resources of the cultural affairs department of New York City are unmatched in any other American city. The only larger – arguably larger – pot of money for the arts in any public sector in America is the federal government. And so it’s not that we don’t – we’re poor as a cultural agency – compare us to LA or Chicago, there’s a lot that can be done with the budget that we have.

Mayor: Thanks everyone.   

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