NESC held its 20th Annual Arts Reception on November 5, at the Salmagundi Club in New York. The special guest speaker was The Honorable Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner of New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.
The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs is the largest cultural funding agency in the country. With a fiscal 2014 expense budget of $156 million and a capital budget of $822 million for the next four years, it provides both operating subsidies and funds for construction and renovation for over 1,000 organizations. Additionally, the Department supports 33 cultural institutions owned by the city. Prior to this post, Commissioner Finkelpearl had served as Executive Director of the Queens Museum for 14 years.
In his remarks, Commissioner Finkelpearl expressed his keen awareness of the economic squeeze currently afflicting the arts community, especially in light of the three main contributions of cultural organizations: their positive economic impact on the city, the intrinsic value of the art itself, and the enrichment of life in local communities. He detailed the application of the mayor’s guiding principle of “equity” to his work, and described the process of making funding decisions with sensitivity to geography and cultural differences between various neighborhoods. Commissioner Finkelpearl identified four particular concerns of the administration: the looming New York “livability” crisis for artists, the constraints of art in public places, diversity of funding, and arts education in public schools. He also mentioned a proposal to issue municipal identification cards to city residents which would include a 1-year membership to the 33 city-owned cultural facilities.
Commissioner Finkelpearl was preceded by Marc Scorca, CEO of Opera America. Mr. Scorca expressed thanks to the NESC consultants who devised a multi-pronged marketing plan which increased member retention from 25% to 50% over a six-month period. Opera America has engaged NESC for a second consulting project.
The event was hosted by Jeanne Linnes, Sector Head of NESC’s Arts & Culture. Ms. Linnes paid tribute to the guidance of Betty Lefferts, who organized the first NESC Arts Reception in 1995.
See photos from the event on our Facebook page.