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In Preliminary Budget Proposals, Mayor Bloomberg Recommends Cuts to the Arts

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed severe cuts to the arts on Thursday in his preliminary budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Bloomberg's recommendations come on the heels of President Barack Obama's proposed cuts to the nation's leading arts endowments on Monday.

Bloomberg's financial plan recommends that the budget of the Department of Cultural Affairs be slashed by $40 million—from $143 million to $103 million. The Department of Cultural Affairs gives out grants to the city's non-profit cultural organizations and promotes the arts around the city.

The mayor did not discuss the cuts directly in his budget announcement on Thursday afternoon, but he did say the city's cultural institutions brought in nearly 49 million visitors to the city in 2010. "With our cultural institutions leading the way," Bloomberg said, "we have just had a record year in tourism."

Bloomberg also recommended spending some $120 million dollars over ten years on the expansion of the Whitney Museum, on a new shark exhibit at the New York aquarium and on the reconstruction of building facades citywide.

Even in the face of proposed cuts, some of the city's arts organizations may be in luck. On Tuesday, the mayor's charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, announced that it would give 250 city arts organizations $32 million in grant money.

2/18/11 Update: On Friday, the Department of Cultural Affairs called WNYC to say that the proposed $103 million budget number proposed by the mayor does not include one-time city councilmember items or restoration dollars. Those figures could increase the Department of Cultural Affairs' budget for the coming fiscal year.

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