New York City's $33.4 billion budget for fiscal 1998, which the City Council approved last week, includes $100 million for the city Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). The funds represent a restoration of all the $15.5 million in DCA cuts proposed by Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, plus an extra $1.1 million.
As approved by the council, $78.7 million will go to the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), the city's 33 cultural institutions which include City Center and the Public Theater. The DCA programs unit will receive $10.8 million. Some 500 nonprofit organizations, including the city's nonprofit theatres, receive funding through the programs unit.
The Cultural Challenge, DCA's matching grant program, will receive $2 million, a cut of more than $200,000 from last year's allotment. The council's one-time add-ons of $2.7 million will go to various projects from the smallest local theatre groups to CIGs, according to David Hogue of the City Council's finance division. Another $1 million was added for a new CIG, the Museum of Jewish Heritage. The DCA staff will receive $3 million for salaries and support.
Most of the $1.1 million bonus money will go to the CIGs. Dorrit Wohl, DCA's deputy commissioner, said that half of the bonus will provide equity for CIG members without collective bargaining, allowing them the same salary scale for employees. The rest, except for $200,000 for the programs unit, will go toward CIG special programs. Wohl said that DCA had yet to designate any specific projects for the extra program funds.
Relief and Disappointment
Wohl expressed relief that the DCA will have more funds with which to work. Norma Munn, chair of the New York City Arts Coalition, said she was grateful to the council for restoring funds, but was disappointed that the mayor and legislators didn't see fit to provide more.
Munn had asked the council at a May 30 public hearing to restore $21 million to DCA. She said DCA would need just under $6 million more to recover the agency's "losses of real dollars over the past eight years," and raise the agency to its 1990 funding level.
Munn had also suggested that the council either eliminate the Cultural Challenge or "fund it better." But the council, thus far, has decided to cut the matching grant program to $2