New York City to Give Record-Breaking $50 M. in Grants to Cultural Organizations

The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs said it would giving $51.4 million in grants to over 1,000 cultural organizations across the five boroughs through an initiative known as the Cultural Development Fund. That fund represents the largest allocation of money in the department’s history. It was made possible by the record-breaking $230 million expense budget that the department was given this year. In total, 1,022 non-profit arts organizations will receive much needed capital for initiatives involving dance, theatre, filmmaking, poetry, music, and more. (A full list of grantees is available on the department’s site.)

“Because New York City plays such an important role in training, inspiring, and providing spaces for the world’s artists and creators, we have a particular responsibility to support these burgeoning visionaries in their craft,” said Vicki Been, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, in a statement. The funds were allocated with the particular goal of making these cultural gifts more widely accessible and uplifting Black and Brown creators.

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The institutions receiving funds range in size and focus. Museums like the Whitney and the Guggenheim are on the list of grantees alongside smaller institutions like the City Island Nautical Museum. Publishers like n+1 and Nightboat Books will also receive support, along with the many dance and theater production groups, like the Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Nueva York and the New York Neo-Futurists.

Nearly $6 million of the funds was directed to previous grantees to bolster prior support. Following research done by the city’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity (TRIE) and the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP), the city identified neighborhoods to prioritize support. More than $5 million will go to 654 grantees across these 33 neighborhoods, including the Lower East Side, Jackson Heights, and East New York, with an additional $1.1 million allocated for arts education programs.

The city has decided to depend on the boroughs’ individual cultural councils to distribute another large portion of funds. Some $5.9 million was split among the councils to support 258 grantees. An additional $2.9 million was given to the councils, which will then regrant them to small arts organizations and artists of their choice later on.

The Disability Forward Fund and Language Access Fund was awarded $1 million to distribute grants to organizations that provide arts and culture programming for those who are disabled and those whose primary language is not English.

The efforts New York City is making to support its cultural sector reflect similar programs around the world following the devastating effects of the pandemic on the arts. Germany appropriated more than $550 million in funding for artists and freelancers, Spain set up a fund to acquire art by Madrid-based artists, and South Korea launched a $280 million fund to support cultural institutions.

“An investment in the arts is an investment in our city’s economic and emotional wellbeing,” Senator José M. Serrano said in a statement. “New York City’s recovery will go hand in hand with the recovery of our cultural sector. I am pleased that this funding is providing critical support for underserved communities, arts education, and disability and language access.”


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