New York Cultural Agency Reforms Fund Aiming for More Equity

New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs has launched a newly-reformed application for cultural organizations seeking funding for 2023 that promises to make the review process of potential recipients more equitable.

The changes were made to the city’s Cultural Development Fund, from which the government distributes money to support cultural organizations across New York City.

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In a statement, the agency said it will consider, “greater recognition of historically marginalized communities, increased minimum grant size, and recruitment of review panelists who reflect the diversity of New York City,” as steps in addressing past inequities in the grant process.

“New York City artists and cultural organizations reflect the diversity of New Yorkers and have connected us through generations,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams in a statement. “The Cultural Development Fund ensures New York City’s cultural ecosystem remains strong, inclusive, and the best in the world.”

The news follows just a few weeks after the appointment of Laurie Cumbo as the department’s new commissioner. Cumbo oversees the department’s policies related to funding arts organizations across the five burroughs. In a statement, Cumbo described the agency’s development fund as, “one of the most important ways our city invests in its cultural community.” She added that the office is also focused on appointing a panel staff that is more representative of diverse backgrounds.

The reforms are part of Mayor Adams’ outline for the city’s economic recovery following the pandemic. In a statement, the department described the government’s investment in the cultural sector as “an essential part of the city’s overall recovery.”

In December, the DCLA distributed $51.4 million in grants to more than 1,000 culture nonprofits across New York City as part of the development fund initiative. The move marked the fund’s largest allocation in the department’s history, following a period of financial strain for the arts amid lockdown restrictions that shuttered many institutions.

“It’s essential the recovery be equitable,” DCLA council member Chi Ossé said in the statement.


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