News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: July 29, 2019

Media Contact:, 212-513-9323


Pilot study from SMU DataArts captures new data on disability status and sexual orientation at 65 organizations, and will roll out to all DCLA constituent organizations next year


New York – The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) and SMU DataArts have released a pilot demographic report on the workforce of cultural nonprofits that receive City funding. This report builds on the landmark 2016 study of the workforce at City-funded, non-profit cultural organizations, which found major disparities between the makeup of the cultural workforce and the city’s population and helped shape a number of new programs and policies aimed at promoting a more diverse and inclusive cultural sector. By collecting self-reported data, this new study captures data on disability and sexual orientation, which were not captured in 2016. Once it is rolled out to all of DCLA’s constituent organizations next year, it will provide a baseline to track progress over time on a broad range of categories, representing a powerful new tool in the City’s efforts to foster a cultural sector that reflects the diversity of the city it serves.

“NYC residents represent an array of cultures, histories, backgrounds, and experiences - and our cultural organizations must reflect that extraordinary breadth,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “This means we need to look at diversity across a number of metrics, including age, disability status, and LGBTQ identity as well as race and gender. This new DataArts survey gives us a tool we can use to do that more effectively and over time. The data we gather will help us design programs to support NYC’s arts and cultural institutions in their ongoing efforts to create opportunities for all New Yorkers.”

This report comes as the 33 members of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) formally adopt diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) plans required by the City. These plans, among the first of their kind in the cultural sector, put forward strategies and policies for addressing the lack of diversity within individual institutions’ staffs and boards and fostering more equitable and inclusive workplace environments. All institutions included staff and management from various levels of the organization in the development of the plans, and each tailored its plan to identify short-, medium-, and long-term goals to track progress. Areas incorporated into every plan included vision, process, hiring, recruitment, retention, promotion, diverse and equitable leadership, and inclusive organizational culture. After submission of the plans, DCLA conducted a rigorous review process and coordinated with each CIG member to finalize its plan. Every plan requires full board approval to be finalized. These plans are living documents, and CIG members are required to report on progress annually to DCLA. Many CIG members used individual reports based on their institution’s data to help shape their DEI plans.


The 2019 SMU DataArts pilot survey collected information on the staff demographics of a group of non-profit cultural organizations funded by the Department of Cultural Affairs, including the 33 members of the Cultural Institutions Group and 32 organizations representing a variety of disciplines, budget sizes, and neighborhoods served that receive support through the Cultural Development Fund. The pilot was funded in large part by the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation.

New identification categories

DCLA worked with DataArts to design and deploy a new survey that relies on self-reported responses, allowing it to more effectively capture demographic information regarding disability status and sexual orientation. The change in methodology means data from the current reports cannot be directly compared with the 2016 data set. However, including these critical aspects of identity and representation reveals a more refined and complete picture, a solid basis for continuing to accurately track employment statistics within the cultural sector. Following this pilot year, DCLA plans to extend the survey to all of its approximately 1,000 constituent organizations in 2020, with the goal of providing a baseline understanding of the demographics of New York City’s cultural workforce that can be tracked over time.

DCLA Funding and Programs

Subsequent to the 2016 report, DCLA and its partners launched a range of new programs and funding to address the urgent need to foster a more diverse and inclusive cultural workforce. These included:


  • Theater Subdistrict Council funding: Over $3 million was dedicated to expand opportunity in the theater workforce, a discipline that faced particularly steep challenges according to the 2016 report.
  • CUNY Cultural Corps: Launched in 2016, this paid internship program addresses pipeline issues by giving CUNY students paid jobs at cultural institutions; in turn, dozens of cultural organizations have unprecedented access to CUNY’s pool of talent. Since its launch, 340 students have provided over 62,000 work hours in the cultural sector.
  • CreateNYC Disability Forward Fund: In 2018, DCLA established the CreateNYC Disability Forward Fund, among the first initiatives dedicated to disability access and artistry in the U.S. In its pilot year, $640,000 was distributed to 22 organizations for programs exemplifying their commitment to inclusion of people with disabilities as artists, cultural workers, and audiences.
  • CreateNYC Leadership Accelerator: This program was created to address the lack of diversity in high-level positions at cultural organizations. It provides professional development and leadership skills training to diverse groups of mid-career cultural professionals. Over 75 cultural workers have participated to date.

Many of these opportunities are ongoing or will be renewed or repeated. Sign up for DCLA’s e-newsletter for the latest updates. These programs are part of broader efforts to foster a more inclusive cultural landscape in NYC, such as increasing equity in DCLA’s funding portfolio, expanding diversity in the city’s public art collection, and more.

The new DataArts survey, which will be conducted at regular intervals, will offer new insights into the cultural workforce, allowing DCLA and others to see what’s working and where more attention is needed. Learn more on 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 non-profit 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