Brooklyn Council Member Intros Arts Bill


Council Member Steve Levin of Greenpoint has introduced a bill to save New York from being overrun by the finance world and pushing out artists, the New York Daily Eagle reported. “For many artists in New York City, it is a struggle each and every day to make a living,” he told the paper. “By having a cultural plan that maps our cultural priorities and figures out how we can improve conditions for artists, we can make New York City a place more accommodating to artists and the incredible work they do.”

The legislation, which was jointly developed with Queens rep Jimmy Van Bramer, would require the City to create a “cultural plan” by analyzing its cultural priorities, how different communities are being served by the arts, the condition of artists in the City today, how New York can remain artist friendly despite rapidly rising rents, and what communities want arts- and culture-wise. Such plans are routine in other cities nationwide, according to the story.

Without such a bill, “we’ll just be a congested banking city,” according to Chocolate Factory founder Sheila Lewandowski. “We need to establish a five-borough cultural policy that makes sure that all communities and all ages have access to art, and that artists are not only enticed to make it big in NYC, they are encouraged to stay and invest their talents where they live.” Above, a scene from Brooklyn’s Beat Festival. Do you think the City, and Brooklyn specifically, needs such a plan, or do the arts just take care of themselves here?

Greenpoint Council Member Asks City to Develop Cultural Plan [Brooklyn Eagle]
Photo Via Beat Festival

5 Comment

  • So ridiculous – 1st of all NYC is less dependent on Finance than at any time in its modern history; 2nd the reason why its a daily struggle for most artist to make a living is because people arent interested in their work.
    BUT if the Government has a role in helping struggling artists (btw isnt the struggle half the charm) then here is my proposal based on the de Blasio theory of Government:
    Lets put a surcharge tax on all artwork that sells for over $20,000 and redistribute that income to help the struggling artists. I mean why should 1% of the artists get all the profits AND in the end it will be the rest of the 1% who will pay the tax since they are the only ones buying high art.

  • HansDelbruck

    Hence the term “Struggling Artist”.

  • HansDelbruck

    @Brklynmind , very well put. Profoundly true.

  • The growth of the BAM cultural area (which in some ways is a recapitulation of the thriving theater district which existed in downtown Brooklyn a hundred years ago) gives some home to the idea that NYC can support a decentralization of the performing arts. Perhaps the best use of funds (and the proposal actually doesn’t seem to be so much about money and more about making sure we have the necessary information to understand what’s going on) would be to refund the arts in the public schools. While my son has been fortunate to go to public schools which prioritize the arts, many kids do not. Helping kids understand how art and creativity can enrich their lives no matter what career they chose would be great.

    • Montrose Morris

      Amen to that, Putnam.

      It’s rather disappointing how “the arts” are always disparaged here by many.

      The arts are much more than the stereotype of trustfunders tatooing themselves in Williamsburg (now Bushwick) lofts, while creating wackadoodle “art” that no one wants or understands. The arts are fine art, music, dance, film, theater and much more. All things that not only enrich our lives, but provide jobs, and make everything from the creation of the shape of your cell phone to the fonts on your computer possible, not to mention other obvious applications. Even if you don’t go to plays, never listen to music, and have never set foot in a museum, you are affected by the arts.

      I think it’s a shame that kids are growing up like the above, never experiencing the wonder of creation and creativity, because the arts are considered “extra” or frivolous, the first thing cut in a budget. We as a society will be sorry for that. Studies show that children without creative outlets generally do not become free-thinking, imaginative adults. That affects the population, no matter what industry you are in. Do we want to become like the drones of North Korea? Let’s fund the arts.