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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

City culturals demand funding to support the City’s arts


Union activists, elected officials, and cultural leaders gathered in support of more funding in the NYC Budget for cultural institutions at a rally on the steps of City Hall.

The May 19 rally is part of a major push during budget negotiations between the City Council and Mayor Adams to support the city’s vital cultural institutions, hit hard by the aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic crisis.

A line of speakers called on the Mayor and the Council to provide funding for the city’s museums, zoos, and other cultural programs to provide the necessary services that make New York City the cultural center of the world.

“I like to talk about the unique greatness of New York City. We’re New Yorkers. We all are. And I like to remember what made New York the greatest city in the world began with an accident. The perfect balance of geography, politics, and economics that brought the communities of the world here, giving us cuisine, music, dance, art, and more than 800 spoken languages,” said New York City Council Member Chi Osse, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries.

“It’s our responsibility to stay the best, and we have to do it,” he said.

DC 37 is requesting $50 million in funding for the Cultural Institutions Group. This will have an impact for hiring more union members for cultural institutions.

Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine also spoke out in support of the proposed funding.

The arts are critical to the city’s life,” Levine said. “Our economy needs the arts. There is no comeback for New York City without them.”

On behalf of DC 37, Local 374 President Leonard Paul spoke at the rally.

“We here to ask the city to support our cultural institutions by investing in our sector’s workforce and programs so we can continue to attract both locals and tourists. In addition to adding $50 million to the baseline, we ask specifically for cultural-wide fundings,” Paul said. “This will allow smaller institutions to help pay for good-paying jobs and benefits.”

“We want to continue to do great things for this city, but we need the mayor to financially support us,” Paul said. “Show us the money!”

As PEP talk goes to press, the City Council is still in negotiations with the Adams administration.