Tomorrow afternoon, a number of New York City Council members will hold a public hearing to decide on the scope of the proposed cultural plan first announced by Council members Stephen Levin and Jimmy Van Bramer in August. The bill’s text, replicated below, sets forth to define a process by which a census of the city’s cultural priorities and objectives might be carried out.
As we noted in our report on this in August, the initiative mirrors similar projects in other cities and could insert an indispensable democratic voice into the city’s large cultural bureaucracy. Council members Stephen Levin and Jimmy Van, the original backers of the proposal, have since been joined by 13 colleagues who have signed on to the bill: Council members Comrie, Dickens, Eugene, James, Koo, Mendez, Palma, Rodriguez, Arroyo, Lander, Mark-Viverito, Brewer and Barron.
In an email, Levin described tomorrow’s hearing as an opportunity to accept “commentary on the scope of the bill and how it would be implemented.” The hearing will take place at 1:00pm tomorrow, November 19, at the Committee on Cultural Affairs (250 Broadway, 14th Floor).
Here’s the proposed bill (Int. No. 1136):
Be it enacted by the Council as follows:
Section 1. Legislative Intent. The Council hereby finds that there is no comprehensive cultural plan for the City. There is no measure of what is considered an acceptable level of cultural resources and how such resources should be provided. It is important to understand the scope of cultural services throughout the City, where these services are lacking and how cultural service gaps may be filled. The cultural plan would identify the current level of service of cultural groups in each neighborhood; detail the feedback from community outreach, establish a strategy to meet the specified needs of each community; quantify the economic impact of arts and culture in the City; and ultimately put forth a targeted approach to increase cultural activity citywide, increase the economic impact of the arts and culture, and provide support to individual and emerging artists in the City.
§ 2. Chapter 67 of the charter of the city of New York is amended by adding a new section 2506 to read as follows:
§ 2506. Cultural plan. 1. On or before July 1, 2015, the commissioner shall produce and post on its website a comprehensive cultural plan for New York city to be submitted to the mayor and council. Such plan shall include, but not be limited to:
a. an outline of how the department intends to increase participation in cultural activities throughout the city and how the department intends to address what the citizens of New York city desire in art and culture policy;
b. an outline of the city’s cultural policies and how the department intends to manifest such policies and study their impact by measurement or review of economic benefits, quality of life, community development, and cultural literacy;
c. a community decision-making process to focus on neighborhoods, to engage and encourage community input and to support access to the arts and cultural programming in such neighborhoods;
d. an analysis of whether some neighborhoods are better served than others and proposals to remedy such deficiencies; and
e. an analysis of the needs of artists and how they can remain in the city and be supported in the city’s real estate environment.
2. Such plan shall be reviewed and may be revised as appropriate every ten years.
§ 3. This local law shall take effect immediately.