With NYC Economy on the Line, Mark Levine Releases Plan to Restore Arts and Art-Based Tourism Jobs
Levine will push for increased funding for the arts; support the reopening of Broadway; create job opportunities for artists
New York City is the cultural capital of the world, and Manhattan is at center stage. The arts are part of our city’s unique vibrancy, part of our creative core and our heritage. Not only do arts support us, heal us, connect us to things we care about, they also play an enormous role in our economy, providing jobs that allow hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers to put food on the table and a roof over their head. With Manhattan’s devastated economy and high unemployment, Mark knows that arts are a vital part of any true recovery. Levine’s agenda includes robustly funding the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), developing programs to help keep arts organizations afloat while they deal with COVID-19 restrictions, working to open Broadway as soon as safely possible, supporting arts organizations of color while uplifting diversity in the arts more broadly, and helping to raise the wage floor and protect workers who make a living in one of the most devastated industries during the pandemic.
The principles of the Borough President’s COVID-19 Recovery plan:
- One Percent for Culture. The arts are an essential part of our city’s identity and our overall economy. Our city budget should reflect that. Mark will push the administration to commit 1% of our budget to DCLA, up from current funding levels of about .2%.
- Support arts venues by purchasing unused tickets. Even when arts venues reopen, many will struggle to fill their halls. Mark will work with City and State partners to develop a plan to purchase unsold tickets in qualifying non-profit and commercial theaters, so long as the financial support would be used to support employees, allowing productions to hire full casts and ensembles even when capacity is limited.
- Open Broadway. In a normal year, more people attend Broadway shows than all our sports teams combined. Opening Broadway will be an important part of reclaiming New York City’s vibrancy, as well as getting performers, stage employees, musicians and countless others back to work. Mark will work with the COVID-19 Czar in his office as well as City Hall and Albany to ensure that post-COVID regulations and policies reflect the unique needs of the unique Broadway industry. Producers and production companies need to begin preparing the health and safety protocols necessary to open right away, and the City should provide access to the capital funds to renovate HVAC systems. Regulations must account for the need to have full ensembles able to safely perform together, and collective bargaining agreements cannot be undercut.
- Allow for DCLA funding and Council funding to be used for operating costs. DCLA provides millions of dollars in grant support to cultural organizations throughout the city. However, the constraints put upon this funding can sometimes tie the hands of organizations, especially not-for-profits with less access to capital and resources to support the back-end of their operations. Mark will work with the City and Council to allow DCLA grants to be used for operating expenses, so long as those organizations meet expectations regarding performer pay and our values of equity, diversity and inclusion.
- Create an Arts Diversity Fund: The arts are a reflection of our values and priorities, but too often arts organizations and artists of color are underfunded and under-supported. Mark will work to create a diversity fund that will invest in career development, mentoring, and support for artists, creators and workers of color in the arts, so that our creative future is as diverse and vibrant as our cultural heritage.
- Raise the wage floor for performers at local festivals. New York City hosts world-renowned arts festivals year-round, ranging from all types, sizes, lengths and art forms. These festivals bolster local economies and contribute to New York City’s cultural vibrancy and heritage. However, festivals that happen on public property should be held to standards that align with our values of supporting workers and performers. Mark will work with the Council, the City, the Comptroller and festival producers to ensure that performers are fairly compensated and can afford to live, work and raise a family in New York City.
- Arts in every school. Mark knows that the benefits of the arts in schools goes far beyond the band room, the art room or the auditorium. The arts are an essential part of a well rounded education. Mark will work with the DOE and principals throughout the borough to ensure that every public school has the funding they need for an arts curriculum, including music, theater and visual arts. This will include developing a pipeline for professional performers to gain work opportunities by teaching in classrooms and developing an artist residency program for every school.
Additional components of the Levine Recovery Blueprint Arts Agenda:
- Create worker protections in NYC’s Open Culture program
- Protect collective bargaining agreements and ensure employers don’t use COVID-19 to undercut union workers or agreements.