Larger arts organizations and some summer programs have received only two months of funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), while other arts groups remain in the dark about whether any monies will be forthcoming. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's withholding arts funds as a part of his budget battle with the City Council has been criticized as fiscally irresponsible by arts advocates.
"One of the most important and damaging elements of this year's budget negotiations, is that Giuliani is withholding 10 months' worth of our baseline funding." That claim, from Carol Stakenas of Creative Time, Inc., was sent to the arts community in a recent e-mail. Stakenas added that "it might take months to find out if this funding will in fact happen."
Creative Time helps artists transform public spaces into arts venues of all types, including perforall types, including performance art. "Instead, Creative Time and other organizations our size will be getting confirmation on our funding levels and release of those dollars two months at a time!"
Norma Munn, chair of the New York City Arts Coalition, told Back Stage that DCA always starts the fiscal year by dealing with arts organizations having budgets of $100,000 and above, and with summer programs. Those groups have been offered the two months of funding rather than a full year.
"If you don't fall in those categories, you don't have any funding, and you don't know when you will [receive funding] or what it will be," Munn said. "There is no promise about anyone else at any time."
Mark Rosier, the marketing director for the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York), said that most of its 350 member theatres produce in the fall, including those funded by DCA. They have yet to hear whether they will receive any money.
Stakenas told Back Stage at press time, "The issue is effectively mounting a presentation in New York. It doesn't happen in two months. Two months doesn't give you any opportunity to plan effectively."
Using her own organization as an example of the need for a more extensive timetable, Stakenas explained, "We work with artists on a pretty quick turnaround, and even then we're in contact with them and planning for four to six months; and that's really fast. In two months you have no way to effectively publicize a project and share it with your constituency. There are lots of stages a program has to go through."
Munn expressed her concern, not only for arts groups, but for how the mayor's policy tied the hands of DCA. "The agency's unable to project what will happen in the future," Munn said. "If this process continues, it would multiply the number of contracts the agency must process by six-fold. Since they can barely get through the contracts they have to manage during the year, they can't possibly deal with that increase."