One percent for culture

Artists and their supporters have a modest proposal for New York City...

Volume 113, No. 8September, 2013

How much do you think New York City spends on culture – including live music? Would it surprise you if you heard that the number was currently less than one percent?

The actual number is 0.22 percent. But what if we could raise the level of funding to one percent? That’s the goal of One Percent for Culture, a non-partisan, grassroots, five-borough campaign whose mission is to demonstrate the value of culture to New York City. The campaign will generate support for an increase in the city’s financial commitment to the nonprofit cultural community, including artists of all disciplines, to a full one percent of the municipal expense budget.

The Local 802 Executive Board recently endorsed the campaign, and President Tino Gagliardi has accepted a spot on the organization’s steering committee. “We’re proud that Local 802 has joined the One Percent for Culture coalition and that Tino Gagliardi is on our steering committee,” Executive Director Heather Woodfield told Allegro. “From Broadway, to the New York Philharmonic, to almost every live performance in NYC, music is an essential part of what makes New York City great.”

Woodfield added, “Along with investing in professional musicians, we must also invest in our future audiences and future performers, which means that music education is vital to ensuring the vitality of New York City culture.”

As a member of the steering committee, President Gagliardi joins Mannes College dean Richard Kessler as well as Karen Brooks Hopkins, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The organization’s advisory council has expanded to 54 prominent advocates of New York City culture. This diverse group includes well known names from the arts and entertainment industry such as actor Sigourney Weaver, actor John Turturro, artist Laurie Anderson, actor Annabella Sciorra, and New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks. The advisory council also includes prominent leaders from New York’s business and cultural communities, including Jonathan Tisch and Tim Zagat. The coalition recently surpassed 500 organizational and business partners throughout all five boroughs in each of the 51 city council districts. These coalition partners are united in seeking a commitment from the city to ensure that the city’s nonprofit cultural organizations receive one percent of the municipal expense budget annually. More than 25,000 individual New Yorkers have also signed the One Percent for Culture appeal in support of this important investment.

All members of the advisory council and coalition have lent their names in support of increasing funding to the organizations that inspire and teach young artists, musicians, actors, and dancers – the same organizations and individuals that draw millions of tourists to the city and draw much-needed tourism dollars to the city’s communities and neighborhood businesses.

“One Percent for Culture’s coalition grows every week as organizations, and businesses join with prominent New Yorkers to add their voices in support of an increase in city funding for culture,” said Woodfield. “Our coalition partners and advisory council members understand that nonprofit culture supports the city in many ways by providing economic benefit while enhancing the quality of life in our communities.”

Nonprofit culture creates more than 120,000 jobs and generates $8.1 billion in economic activity, according to the latest data from the Municipal Art Society. More than 24 million tourists are drawn to the city’s world-class cultural offerings each year. Despite the measurable value of culture to the city’s fiscal health, nonprofit cultural organizations currently receive less than one-fourth of one percent of the overall city expense budget.

Our city is home to over 1,300 cultural organizations and thousands of artists spanning all five boroughs, neighborhoods, and city council districts. These organizations and individuals bring jobs to our families, customers to our merchants, revenue to our small businesses, and vitality to our city. They stimulate our minds and provide supplemental education to millions of New York City students. These organizations range from performing arts centers, art galleries, and dance troupes to orchestras, nonprofit theatre companies, museums and zoos.

Together we will demonstrate that New Yorkers all across this city support committing one percent of the city expense budget to New York City’s cultural community. We will inform the 2013 municipal candidates of their constituents’ support of the One Percent for Culture campaign and the value of nonprofit culture to all New Yorkers. We will ask the candidates to pledge to increase city funding for nonprofit culture to a full one percent of the municipal expense budget.

For more about One Percent for Culture and to sign the appeal, see The site also features video clips, including interviews with the various mayoral candidates.