Friday, November 25, 2016
NYC's Cultural Research in Practice - #CreateNYC

As cultural advocates and arts leaders discuss what a comprehensive cultural plan for NYC would look like, Mark Stern of the Social Impact of the Arts Project (SIAP) at the University of Pennsylvania gave a lay of the land at the convening Cultural and Racial Equity in Practice: Current Policy and Research and the Future of New York City. 

The images of the maps really clarify what the city was thinking and how they were going about doing it.

Full Talk here:

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Dialogue on the NYC Cultural Plan

The Innovative Cultural Advocacy/Cultural Equity Coalition presented an open dialogue on the NYC Cultural plan on last Friday, October 28th. 

"NYC's cultural policies should empower arts and cultural organizations working in communities
of color, not only because a diverse arts sector is an essential element for any global city, but 
also because many culturally-specific organizations are already working, directly or indirectly, to
address inequality in the distribution of public services, enforcement of civil rights, and access to 
professional and educational opportunities."
Panelists included: 
The Cultural Equity Coalition
Nisha Baliga- Participatory Planning Director, Hester Street Collaborative
Caron Atlas- Consultant, Hester Street Collaborative AND Co-director of Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York
Edwin Torres- Deputy Commissioner NYC Department of Cultural Affairs 
Moderated by Nathalie Tejada, Director of Development, Public and Government Relations, Astor Services for Children & Families, and ICA Alum-Cycle II. 

ICF fellows of the CCCADI (Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute) made their reports to DCA and the two groups they hired to manage the process, Hester Street Collaborative and Caron Atlas.

DCA and co agreed to come to this to hear from CEG and all that Marta has been doing. Linda Walton spoke for CEG, giving a report:

I.  Cultural Equity Group History and Background
·       Emerging from the Civil Rights Movement and founded in 2007, the Cultural Equity Group (CEG) is a coalition of cultural arts organizations and artists in New York City working for the equitable distribution of funds and resources to assure that under-resourced and under-served emerging and mid-sized organizations grounded in the culture and arts of their communities are fairly funded.

·       The Cultural Equity Group speaks to the importance of artists and arts organizations of color whose contributions often define the vibrancy and vitality of neighborhoods throughout New York.  Many are landmark cultural institutions operating within most Council district.

·       Concern of CEG: Presently 33 organizations designated the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) receive approximately 3/4 of the New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs budget while approximately ¼ is divided among over 1000 organizations.  The vast majority of organizations funded in this category reflect historically marginalized racial, ethnic and other cultural groups that do not represent the so-called “mainstream.”
II. CEG Informing the Cultural Plan
At a meeting organized last year by the CEG at The Riverside Theater, The CEG proposed the following
·       Equity is not a remedial endeavor for the disadvantaged but sees our communities from their advantages, their positives, enabling their unique qualities to enrich us all.
·       Requested a CEG appointment to the NYC Citizen’s Advisory Committee.
·       A fully transparent Cultural Planning effort that explores creative new funding mechanisms such as the creation of a Cultural Re-investment Fund that recognizes the important role played by community arts organizations and artists in creating vital communities and offers a viable vehicle to address concerns for cultural equity and access
·       The Plan should address structural changes as a priority
·       The Plan should bring about equity and a transparent funding distribution process
·       The Plan should consider a decentralized structure that empowers arts service organizations/intermediaries that are reflective of the communities served to manage the process
·       Establish relationships with other city agencies to explore the integration of the arts in their service deliverables.   Small Business Services, Economic Development, City Plan (land use/zoning), Housing (affordable housing), Work Force Development, Health, etc.

III. explore/Research viable strategies

The Cultural Equity Re-Investment Fund
·       The CEG proposes the creation of a Reinvestment Fund that reinvests the city’s arts-generated tourism income in the communities of color served by local artists, arts organizations and smaller cultural institutions and by doing so addresses concerns for equity and access.  The Reinvestment Fund will:
·       Generate new funding from new source
·       Create a platform for equity within the diversity parameters NYC is seeking to develop via the Cultural Plan;
·       Represent the true diversity across the entire City, and infuse the plan with support for the realities organizations face city-wide thus enriching NY districts, local organizations and arts agencies as specific regional demographics evolve.
·       Spur economic, cultural and community revitalization efforts;
·       Create jobs, provide a living wage and benefits to cultural workers;
·       Build Cultural Networks led by organizations of color and promote local arts activity as key to the City’s economic health among NYC political leadership.

The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA)
·       CETA was a federal program that created jobs across sectors including the arts (artists/arts organizations) administered through various city and arts organizations.
·       The development of the Cultural Plan should include a review and analysis of this project framing the impact, number of artists employed, etc.

·       CEG members Dianne Fraher, Bob Lee, Bill Aguado and Pat Cruz were all products of this program which had an important impact on employment for artists and provided employees for arts organizations.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA)
Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) hired hundreds of artists who collectively created more than 100,000 paintings and murals and over 18,000 sculptures. The Federal Art Project (1935–43) was a New Deal program to fund the visual arts in the United States. It was created not as a cultural activity but as a relief measure to employ artists and artisans to create murals, easel paintings, sculpture, graphic art, posters, photography, theatre scenic design, and arts and crafts. The WPA Federal Art Project established more than 100 community art centers throughout the country, researched and documented American design, commissioned a significant body of public art without restriction to content or subject matter, and sustained some 10,000 artists and craft workers

IV. Additional Recommendations for the Plan

1.   Funding
  • Sustainable funding as a designated line item in the City Budget independent of the funds provided to the Cultural Institutions Group to landmark our cultures and the cultural resources of communities of color. Funding would support:
§  Operations/Administration
§  Projects/Programs
§  Capacity Building

§     Monies earmarked to conduct research and to collect data that both [on the deficit side] demonstrate a system of de facto cultural apartheid; funding imbalances in the City and [on the surplus end] the enormous economic benefits; cultural pride and social mobility it brings to communities of color.

2.   Resources
§      Access to information, application and funding processes for capital dollars for equipment, capital improvements, and real estate acquisitions.

§       Increased or provision of services and support for individual artists that improve the quality of life so they may better serve our communities such as health insurance, employment, subsidized studio space, and affordable housing.

3.   Technical Assistance
§       Assistance providing infrastructure development in the form of capacity building, organizational preparedness, professional development, and increased staff provided by intermediaries such as AHA, HAA, NoMAA, other service organizations with a focus on communities of color is needed to successfully endow a foundation of stability, growth, and sustainability to organizations in need.
            To make the distribution of assets more independent and equitable, the recalibration of administrative processes within existing funding agencies is imperative. CEG asks that monies allocated to the group be administered through alternate agencies (i.e. Small Business Service or EDC). Alternatively, the CEG proposes the creation of an independent CEG Administrative office in each Borough.
     In addition, the privatization of public projects and public culture raises concern about the use of private dollars for major real estate developments that impose and/or exclude certain cultural sensibilities. The CEG encourages “socially conscious development” and seeks to ensure that the City makes a concerted effort to landmark cultural/ethnic-specific businesses within the city’s development plans.
      CEG must have a place at the table to make sure that we have input in development projects that impact our livelihood. CEG will review and use as a reference, the 197A plans of Community Boards and Community Benefits Agreements to assess their impact on communities-of-color and how communities-at-large can protect, preserve indigenous groups or its historic residents.
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