Post-Medici: Art and the Next Mayor

09/25/2013 4:00 AM |

Now that the race for mayor of New York features far fewer candidates, which should permit a bit more room to discuss issues generally glossed over during the primaries, The L Magazine would hereby like to do its humble best to insert support for the arts into the campaign discourse.

Assuming the next mayor has the fiscal and temporal wherewithal to expand or enhance arts initiatives in some way—and assuming, as well, that he cares about them even remotely—what would you like to see added to such an agenda? What would you like to hear factor into campaign proposals and conversations? We asked some folks with keen awarenesses of such matters for their input.

Karen Marston

Artist and
President of the Board of Trustees of NURTUREart Non-Profit

Everyone in the non-profit art world who depends on the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs funding will need to brace themselves for cuts, since Bloomberg has been personally subsidizing it through the recession. That insulation from reality will likely evaporate once he’s out of office. But if the new mayor would just please not make any more zoning changes and tax giveaways that encourage luxury condo building in industrial neighborhoods, then perhaps not every vital art neighborhood will be overrun by real estate developers. I guess my hopes amount to, “Please don’t do too much harm!” If there were some extra money sloshing about, arts education in our public schools is sorely lacking funding.

James Panero

Executive Editor of The New Criterion
Say what you want about him, but for the last 12 years Bloomberg has pumped Medici-millions into arts organizations around town. What’s certain about our next mayor is he will be a lot poorer. So what happens when Bloomberg’s patronage takes the last private jet to Bermuda? The current candidates need to give real answers as to how they will harness the city’s creative energy, especially in the other boroughs, and do it with far fewer resources. Keeping crime down and the L train running on weekends would be a start, but, Bill, Joe, join me for the next Bushwick Beat Nite and we’ll talk it through.

Benjamin Sutton

For better and worse—better because there are lots of issues voters care more about than supporting contemporary art, but worse because the city’s art community does need the support of City Hall—I suspect that visual art policies will be pretty remote from the candidates’ agendas. That said, and particularly given that Joe Lhota once crusaded to cut the Brooklyn Museum’s funding, it’s not such an improbable topic of debate. I’d be delighted to hear each candidate’s plan not only to maintain but actually increase the level of support provided under Bloomberg, and also suggest some viable measures—housing subsidies, expanded loft laws, Westbeth-style dedicated artist apartment buildings, etc.—to prevent artists from being displaced by gentrification.

You can follow Paul D’Agostino on Twitter @postuccio