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Bloomberg Philanthropies Offers Funding to NYC Cultural Groups

Many of the city's small and medium-sized arts organizations will be crossing their fingers as they check the mail this month. On Tuesday, the Mayor's charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced that it will invite 250 arts organizations to apply for $32 million in funding as part of an "Arts Advancement Initiative."

Many of the arts organizations receiving invitations to apply for the funding have previously gotten grants from the Carnegie Corporation. Much of that funding was thanks to an anonymous donor to Carnegie, believed to be Bloomberg himself.

"Towards the end of the fiscal year everybody would yell and scream and jump up and down and say it came, aren't we happy," said Tom Finkelpearl, director of the Queens Museum of Art.

Finkelpearl notes that the new funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies sounds like it has a more stringent application process. "With Carnegie it was just a check," he says of the $900,000 the museum received over seven years.

One organization, Harlem Stage, has confirmed that they have received an invitation to apply for the funds. Bloomberg Philanthropies declined to specify how the 250 organizations were chosen, other than that they were selected from "a wide range of visual and performing arts organizations" in the city's five boroughs.

For Finkelpearl, the possibility of receiving funding thanks to a charity connected to the Mayor doesn't present any conflicts of interest. "In my mind, there's the Mayor over here, and then there's Mike Bloomberg the philanthropist over there. They happen to be the same person, but I try to keep them separate in my mind," he said.