Arts leaders from around the state cheered news Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's 2015 budget proposal included a $5 million increase for the New York State Council on the Arts and praised the effort of NYSCA Chairman Aby Rosen, who promoted it.
The increase is particularly significant since it continues an upward trend started in 2012-13, when Cuomo added $4 million in regional economic development funds to the NYSCA budget. While arts advocates agree this is a step in the right direction, they continue to work to restore NYSCA to its highest amount of local assistance funding, which was $54.3 million more than 27 years ago (in 1988-89 and 1989-1990). There also is a proposed increase in NYSCA staff, bringing the total number to 30.
Arts leaders are quick to point to how such funding not only benefits arts and culture in this state, but is also a boon to local economies. New York is home to 53,085 arts-related businesses that employ 335,683 people, according to studies completed in recent years. The nonprofit cultural sector is vital to areas such as New York City, greater Buffalo, Westchester County, the northern Adirondack regions and other parts of the state (read more about the regional benefits here).
The recent advocacy effort led by ArtsNYS was organized on behalf of all NYSCA recipients large and small. ArtsNYS is a network of arts councils and affiliated organizations from all over the state that redistribute NYSCA funds through the decentralization program, working closely with the cultural organizations in their communities.
Starting in October, coalition members met with their legislators asking them to urge the governor to request an increase. They explained to legislators that nonprofit cultural organizations are, in actuality, small businesses that have struggled through the recession with diminished resources and greater demand for their services. Many of these businesses do not have the access to corporate or foundation funds, as do other more institutional players.
The ArtsNYS coalition is comprised of 29 organizations, including Arts Services Initiative of Western New York.
"I am proud to be a part of this important coalition and - along with my colleagues at the Cattaraugus, Wyoming and Genesee-Orleans county arts councils - make sure our great Western New York cultural sector is represented in these statewide efforts," ASI Executive Director Tod A. Kniazuk said. "As cultural funding is rightly included in initiatives like the regional economic councils, in order to ensure accessibility and diversity it cannot be at the expense of general NYSCA grant making or the DEC regrant program. This $5 million is a big step in that direction, and I thank Gov. Cuomo for including it in his proposed budget."
For a full list of ArtsNYS members, go to www.artsNYS.org.