2011 MANY Legislative and Budgetary Priorities

No More Arts and Cultural Cuts in 2011-2012 State Budget

Clearly, like everyone else in the state, the museum community was hit by 2009’s economic downturn. Traditionally, this is a field that adapts and survives, but as many revenue streams and endowments shrink, museums have had to do more with less and public money becomes a critical linchpin in the search for private dollars. In FY 2011, the New York State Council on the Art’s Museum Program used its competitive granting process to award $4,127,323 in competitive grants, this from a budget still reeling from a 24-month decline resulting in a 40-percent cut in staff and a 28 percent reduction in the Council’s overall budget.

The Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums Program (ZBGA) received $9 million in FY 2011, providing support for 76 organizations across the state ineligible for NYSCA’s operational funding. This was the second year in a row that ZBGA narrowly escaped a 44-percent cut. But even with these cuts, museums remain a good investment: For every dollar New York invests in museums, heritage sites, zoos, botanic gardens and aquariums, they pour $555 back into the economy.

All told, the state’s 1,900 museums and heritage organizations receive about $20 million in state funding from all sources or .0147-percent of the state’s FY2010 $136 billion budget.

Private foundations, wealthy donors and corporations tend to support capital and project-driven initiatives. NYSCA and ZBGA are unique in that they provide general operating support. When NYSCA’s budget is cut it produces a domino effect, reducing institutional operating budgets.

Cultural Education Fund

The bill (S.3640 Oppenheimer/A.6783 Englebright) would replenish the fund that supports the operations of the New York State Museum, Library, Archives, and Public Broadcasting by raising the fees that local governments and courts charge from $15 to $22.50.  The fund has been depleted due to the downturn in the economy and previous sweepings of the fund to support other state operations.  The Cultural Education Fund now operates at a multi-million deficit.