Community Board Responds to NYSCA Cuts 

 
4/2/2009 


On April 1, 2009, the Theatre Task Force for Community Board 4 put forward a letter to Governor Paterson addressing the cuts to the 2009 second round of New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Funding. The letter calls on the Governor to "restore the NYSCA funds" and says that smaller theatres "enhance New York's competitive edge."

During the public session, Paul Adams, Artistic Director of Emerging Artists Theatre spoke directly to the community board saying that the "NYSCA Funding is vital. Smaller theatres don't have a lot of funding options." This point was reiterated by Shay Gines, Executive Director of the New York Innovative Theatre Foundation, "While other funding organizations have simply dismissed smaller theatre, NYSCA has always understood its importance and has made Off-Off-Broadway a priority."

The Board voted overwhelmingly, 39 to 1 (and 1 "present not eligible") in support of the letter (see below).

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The Honorable David A. Paterson
State Capitol
Albany, New York 12224

Dear Governor Paterson,

Manhattan Community Board 4 overwhelmingly objects to the debilitating (100%) 2009 second round funding cuts to the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) that occurred in the fall of 2008. As Manhattan District 4 is home to over 40% of all small to mid-sized theatres in New York City[1], we ask that you restore funding to those theatres whose 2009 applications were being considered in that round of NYSCA funding. This NYSCA cut blind sided scores of theatres in our area that were placed in financial peril due solely to their arbitrary position in the application cycle.

We further object to your proposed $7 million cut to NYSCA's 2010 budget. This amount represents a very small "savings" for the State, but a substantial loss for the performing arts. Given theatre's proven ability to leverage government contributions by a 5 to 1 ratio, this $7 million savings could mean as much as a $35 million loss to the State in arts
economic activity[2].

With New York State's budget currently slated to be $131.8 billion, the restoration of NYSCA's share represents a negligible addition to it. What in the big picture would be considered a "rounding error" could literally mean survival for a crucial component of the City's arts infrastructure.

Theaters provide jobs, support neighborhood economies, and enhance New York's competitive edge. New York City's status as a culture center attracts both the most ambitious and accomplished artists & professionals, and as a result, the tourist and other revenue streams that follow. In addition, small to mid-size theatres provide valuable research and development for the entertainment industry; acting as entry points for
actors, choreographers, musicians, designers, et al. Nowhere is that more evident than in Community District 4, which has had a major role in the development of theatre in New York City for generations.

At the recent and unprecedented public forum for theatre professionals (hosted by Community Boards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5), the displacement of small to mid sized theatres was of crucial concern. Restoring NYSCA funding will have an immediate and positive impact on the stability and survival of many of our small to mid-sized theaters and the economic resilience of our neighborhoods.

We urge you, please, to restore the NYSCA funds.

Sincerely,

Manhattan Community Board 4

[1] New York Innovative Theater Foundation 2008
[2] Alliance for the Arts 2005

cc.:
State Majority Leader Malcolm Smith
New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
New York State Senator Tom Duane
New York State Senator Liz Krueger
New York State Senator Daniel Squadron
New York Assembly Member Daniel O'Donnell
New York Assembly Member Richard Gottfried
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
Speaker of the New York City Council Christine Quinn
New York City Council Member Gale Brewer
New York City Council Member Alan Gerson
New York City Council Member Daniel Garoonick
New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick
New York Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal
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