Friday, July 1, 2011

Cultural groups rejoice as city restores proposed cuts

Crain's New York Business reported that despite threats of deep cuts to institutions from the Metropolitan Museum to Staten Island's Botanical Gardens, nearly all of the money was restored in the city's final budget.

After yet another year of in which local cultural institutions were threatened by proposed deep budget cuts from the city, nearly all the money was restored in the final budget for this fiscal year.

The cultural institutions group—made up of all the arts groups in city-owned building ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden on Staten Island—received an initial restoration of $20.5 million of its proposed $33.7 million cut. Sources say Mayor Bloomberg is going to put in an additional $10 million from discretionary funds, nearly fully restoring the CIGs funding.

Funding for the hundreds of arts institutions that are not in city-owned buildings, like the Museum of Modern Art, received a restoration of $9 million, basically erasing their proposed cut.
Arts executives had expected little restoration this year because of the city's precarious financial state. Though they were thrilled with the final numbers, they questioned why they have been forced to go through this “budget dance” every year.

“We are very grateful for the City Council and the mayor's concern and commitment to the cultural sector,” said Norma Munn, chairperson of the New York City Arts Coalition. “There were people going without pay checks over the last few months because we were having such a tough time in the sector, so every dime counts.”

The New York Public Library, which waged an aggressive campaign to keep its city funding, received a restoration of $36.7 million of its proposed $40 million cut. Library officials said the final budget would allow it to avoid layoffs and keep all libraries open at least five days a week.

“When it comes to libraries, the real winners this budget season are New Yorkers,” a spokeswoman for the library said. “Thanks to a sizable restoration from the City, all of our 90 locations across the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island will remain open.”

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