While New Yorkers are still waiting for Mayor de Blasio to release an economic plan, some city council members are proposing to set forth a cultural plan for the Mayor to consider in the city where only 30% of New Yorkers bought a ticket to a Broadway show last season.
The comprehensive cultural plan would ideally address getting more New Yorkers in the seats of shows, ensuring cultural institutions have the fundraising it needs, finding ways to engage young people to become future patrons through exposure to the arts and providing an equal opportunity for all five boroughs to have access to creating and participating in the arts.
“Are we raising the next generation of audience members by exposing the students of our City to the arts and helping them see it as part of their daily existence and as their right as New Yorkers?” asked Bennett Rink, the executive director for Alvin Ailey Dance Foundation in the Crain’s Conference on Culture and Media.
New York City is known as one of the cultural epicenters of the world, but the starving artists who brought it to this point can no longer afford to live in the City, let alone find art space. Although some have made use with abandoned buildings, warehouses and lots, the next generation of artists and patrons were put at a disadvantage with cutbacks on arts education. The effects of which are still in play as New York City schools are still in recovery, even after Mayor de Blasio placed $23 million into arts programs.
The setbacks include a need to reconnect art institutions programs with schools and for those schools to find qualified art teachers who were laid off in the previous cutbacks, according to Karen Brooks Hopkins, the President of Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Although a cultural plan could lead to some organization in the arts to help with this – art institutions are leery on letting too much structure into the arts.
“I would have to really study it,” said Hopkins. “Too much order in the arts is not necessarily best but total chaos is not the best thing either. There’s a happy medium here and there are probably certain parts of the plan that are worthy of embracing but too often I think that we see plans put forward with specific objectives and they’re not backed up with resources and that just creates more burden than opportunity.”
“If a plan exists that creates opportunity then we should talk about it. If a plan exists that creates dissension and has organizations competing against each other for already scare resources then I would find it difficult to embrace that¬¬¬,” continued Hopkins.
The City council members might have some support in the Senate to put forth the plan.
“I think a cultural framework for where the city wants to put its resources in the state is a good idea,” said New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, though he agreed with the speakers that it’s also good to have some “disharmony” in the In arts.
In the meantime, Rink has a few suggestions for the plan.
“Arts education would be key,” said Rink, while also adding that fundraising would be important as well.
“Some of the hardest money to raise is some of the money for the work — which is what draws the audience. To the degree that more support would be to conditioning artists and helping organizations to commission artists will be great.”