Leaders of major cultural institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Carnegie Hall, sent a letter to Mayor Eric Adams urging him to reconsider millions of dollars in proposed budget cuts to their organizations.
Rather than slashing spending, Adams should be investing in cultural institutions as a way to spur tourism and create jobs, according to the letter, which was publicly released Tuesday. It was signed by at least 30 board members and presidents of organizations that are part of the Cultural Institutions Group, a coalition of museums, botanical gardens, zoos and performance venues across the city.
“Simply stated – culture delivers,” the letter to the mayor says. “A mere two years ago, as you took office, you correctly identified that New York City could recover from the economic devastation of COVID only by realizing a return of the tourism economy. Our city’s cultural jewels – all 34 [Cultural Institutions Group members] from the five boroughs – represent the core offering of New York City to the region, nation, and world.”
Adams is slated to release his preliminary budget for fiscal year 2025 Tuesday and is expected to propose funding cuts across a range of city agencies — a measure the mayor says is necessary to offset the city’s fiscal crisis. The expected cuts for fiscal year 2025 will arrive shortly after Adams ordered city agencies to reduce spending by 5% for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
The letter to the mayor points out that the Department of Cultural Affairs’ budget is already small, accounting for only about 0.2% of the city’s overall budget.
In his November savings plan, Adams cut the Department of Cultural Affairs budget by $9.3 million for the current fiscal year, including a reduction of $5.8 million in subsidies for the Cultural Institutions Group. Adams also instituted a one-year pause of CUNY’s Culture Corps, which provides opportunities for CUNY students to work in the arts, and cut $2.6 million from the city’s Cultural Development Fund, which provides grants to arts nonprofits.
The November plan projects further budget cuts to the Department of Cultural Affairs in fiscal years 2025, 2026 and 2027, totaling about $8 million each year.
A spokesperson for City Hall did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
“We’re truly bracing ourselves,” Coco Killingsworth, vice president of creative social impact and interim head of virtual programming at the Brooklyn Academy of Music , told Gothamist on Monday. “We have already seen a reduction in programs. We’ve seen staffing cuts, we’ve seen hours reduced and we’re still seeing large hits to revenue across all of our institutions.”
Killingsworth said city funding helps subsidize BAM’s educational programming and the organization has already had to reduce the number of schools where it provides after-school programs and workshops.