Council Members Levin and Van Bramer introduce bill requiring city to have a cultural plan

Council Members Stephen Levin and Jimmy Van Bramer have introduced legislation at the New York City Council that would require the City to have a cultural plan. The bill calls on the City to analyze their current cultural priorities, determine how different communities are being served and how they propose to improve these services, study the condition of artists in this city today, and plan how NYC can remain an artist friendly city in a time of skyrocketing rents and other economic pressures.  The plan calls for the City to go out to communities throughout the five boroughs and find out what they want and need in a cultural plan and to incorporate these recommendations in the plan.

The bill was introduced in response to the lack of cultural planning for New York City.  Cities across the country routinely make cultural plans that reflect the needs and desires of their residents for a robust and effective cultural policy and yet NYC has never conducted a systematic cultural plan. 

“For many artists in New York City, it is a struggle each and every day to make a living,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “By having a cultural plan that maps our cultural priorities and figures out how we can improve conditions for artists, we can make New York City a place more accommodating to artists and the incredible work they do. I want to thank Council Member Van Bramer for his leadership on cultural issues and his support of a cultural plan for New York City.”

"As Chair of the New York City Council’s Cultural Affairs Committee I believe it is imperative that we initiate institutional policies that will firmly set our City’s foundation as the leading cultural capital of the world,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer. “The plan will require the Department of Cultural Affairs to analyze whether some neighborhoods are better served by culture than others. It will require an analysis of the needs of artists. It will also require the Department to outline how it intends to increase participation in cultural activities throughout the City. By including these real, straightforward and tangible goals, New York City will have a clear plan and goal as to how to maintain its status as the cultural capital of the world.”

Ella J. Weiss, President of the Brooklyn Arts Council, said, “There’s no question that New York City is the creative capital of our nation with more artists, writers, musicians, actors and dancers than anywhere in the country. It is now well known that the arts and cultural sector, and specifically the artists that comprise it, are a major economic engine of our great city. Brooklyn Arts Council supports the creation of a solid plan on how NYC can continue to be an artist friendly place amid skyrocketing rents and tough economic times.”

"Artists and cultural organizations are critical to the vitality and economy of neighborhoods throughout the city,” said Mary Ceruti, Executive Director & Chief Curator, SculptureCenter. “As New York continues to grow and evolve, our cultural policies need to respond to new contexts and new needs.  Comprehensive cultural planning would assess and analyze the cultural landscape throughout all five boroughs. It would also help to ensure that New York City remains a place of creativity and innovation as well as a destination for cultural tourists from around the world.”

“Art and Artists matter and NYC is still where the world comes to experience and make art but, if we don’t get serious about incorporating the arts into our continued development from planning to completion, we will develop ourselves into a city without soul,” said Sheila Lewandowski, Founder of the Chocolate Factory. “We’ll just be a congested banking city. We need to establish a five-borough cultural policy that makes sure that all communities and all ages have access to art, and that artists are not only enticed to make it big in NYC, they are encouraged to stay and invest their talents where they live. 

“A robust arts and culture policy is a critical component of New York City’s economic development strategy. It is a well-documented fact that a vibrant arts scene is essential to the health of any area seeking to draw employees who want to live and work in a creative and vibrant community. The arts create jobs, spur urban renewal, attract new businesses, draw tourism dollars, and enhance community development,” said Karen Zornow Leiding, director of the Arts & Business Council of New York. “It takes a team to create and sustain an arts sector as rich and diverse as New York’s, and I want to thank New York City Councilmembers Stephen Levin and Jimmy Van Bramer for their tremendous work on behalf of the arts in New York City and for their leadership on this initiative.”  

Adam Huttler, Executive Director of Fractured Atlas, said “New York may still be the arts and culture capital of the world, but we won’t keep that status much longer if we remain passive in our approach to cultural policy and planning. I applaud Councilmembers Levin and Van Bramer for introducing this bill and pushing for a more serious, thoughtful approach to retaining and strengthening the city’s cultural assets and creative economy.”