New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Commissioner Laurie Cumbo today announced over $58 million in Cultural Development Fund (CDF) grants to 1,070 cultural organizations across the five boroughs.
This year’s process introduced a series of equity reforms dedicated to identifying and reducing biases in DCLA’s grantmaking process, and saw the return of the competitive, peer-panel review process for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a record investment from the Adams administration and the City Council, DCLA awarded the most funding to the largest number of cultural organizations ever, marked by major boosts for smaller groups and organizations led by people of color, as well as an increase in the number of groups receiving city support for the first time. The CDF awards also continue to invest in priorities like language and disability access, as well as individual artists, and includes an infusion of funds from Mayor Adams’ “Blueprint for New York City’s Economic Recovery.”
“Throughout our city, we have a multitude of diverse cultural organizations that reflect the rich history of New Yorkers that have been hidden for too long,” said Mayor Adams. “This administration believes in uplifting these cultural groups with our words and our dollars. By utilizing equity reforms, we are spreading the investments to not only our well-known cultural organizations, but to this city’s smaller, local, and more diverse groups that reflect the histories of all New Yorkers. No matter in what borough, New Yorkers can learn about some of the unique cultures in their own backyards or in locations across the city. I am proud to support and invest in our cultural groups to ensure we are all connected as one.”
“Our arts and cultural organizations are ‘Getting Art Done’ in every corner of our city, for every community in our city,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres Springer. “We’re so thrilled to make this historic investment in the nonprofit arts groups that bring joy and create opportunities for reflection and connection. The thoughtful, far-reaching reforms that we’re rolling out this year have helped make sure this public support truly serves the public and lifts up artists and cultural groups across the five boroughs.”
“Culture is the bedrock of our communities and an integral part of who we are as a city,” said DCLA Commissioner Cumbo. “We are honored to invest this historic funding in New York’s vast and vibrant nonprofit cultural community. With the competitive process returning for the first time since the pandemic, hundreds of new groups had the opportunity to apply, and the result is the largest number of grantees in agency history. Our ongoing reform process helped advance first-time grantees, smaller organizations, and those led by people of color — a big first step in fostering greater equity. We’ll continue to work with our cultural community in the months ahead to ensure that our support reaches every corner of New York City in a fair, equitable way and continues to move our city forward.”
The ongoing reforms integrated into the CDF process significantly impacted the outcome of this year’s awards. Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of grantees received more funding thanks mainly to increases in minimum award sizes (e.g. the minimum grant for the smallest organizations increased from $5,000 to $10,000) — marking the first time these awards have increased since 2008. Smaller groups benefitted tremendously: those with budgets of $25,000 or less saw a 19 percent higher rate of funding success from the previous competitive grant cycle; the average baseline awards for groups with budgets under $250,000 increased by 67 percent, from $8,300 to $13,900.
Minority-led groups saw significant increases in funding. More than four-fifths (82 percent) of groups that identify as being led by or founded by people of color saw an increase in their baseline awards. There was also an increase in the number of awards for first-time applicants due to an effort to welcome groups that had never applied before or had not applied in more than two years: 125 groups in this category received funding, versus just 47 in the previous competitive grant cycle. This helps ensure that city funding continues to reach communities, delivers services in every corner of the city, and gives groups access to new pathways for growth and investment.
The number of organizations receiving multi-year award commitments increased by 41 percent compared to the last competitive grant cycle. This was thanks to a major component of DCLA’s reform process expanding multi-year award eligibility to all DCLA grantees, something which was previously available only to larger organizations. Multi-year awards offer new stability to groups who can count on city support for more than one year at a time and reduces the time and capacity required to submit annual applications.
Overall, 80 percent of all applicants received funding. This is a remarkably high rate of success for funders and furthers DCLA’s mission to steward public dollars in a way that supports broad access to cultural programming in all corners of New York City.
The Fiscal Year 2023 CDF marks the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that DCLA conducted a competitive, peer-panel review process. The return of the panel process allowed for new applicants to receive city funding and for groups to be evaluated based on the strength of their applications and services to New Yorkers. The panels also saw changes, with an increased honorarium for panelists, recognizing their expertise and time commitment, and dedicated efforts to recruit new panelists to participate in the process. Additional reforms included virtual panels and a streamlined application process that was moved entirely online — eliminating the need to deliver materials to DCLA’s offices in Lower Manhattan, which posed an unfair burden on groups in other areas of the city. These reforms are part of an ongoing, active pilot that will have and will continue to engage all applicants participating in the process.
“As the cultural capital of the world, our city is renowned for the creativity and brilliance of New Yorkers,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Investing in their success is critical, which is why the council allocated significant funding to support cultural organizations. With the equity reforms implemented by the Department of Cultural Affairs, smaller and traditionally underrepresented organizations will receive city funding, many for the first time, to bolster their work. These changes represent a major step forward, and I thank DCLA for their leadership to assist New York City’s beloved cultural institutions.”
“The $58 million in Cultural Development Fund grants awarded by the Department of Cultural Affairs to over 1,000 cultural organizations citywide is a groundbreaking investment in our communities and the future of our City,” said New York City Council Member Kevin C. Riley, co-chair, Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. “Historically, community-serving cultural organizations have operated below their required budgetary needs, and that has a direct, adverse impact on services provided and available opportunities. With this boost in funding to more POC-led organizations of varying sizes, we are ensuring gaps are filled, and that our communities can continue to showcase their excellence in the arts.”
“As the primary steward of chamber music globally, the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s abilities to share this joyous art form with the next generation and to ensure that our work is accessible to all New Yorkers are critical to the future of chamber music,” said Suzanne Davidson, executive director, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. “The generous award we received from the Department of Cultural Affairs for our youth education and community engagement programs is essential to making this possible. CMS is so grateful to DCLA for its commitment to strengthening arts and culture for all in our beloved hometown. Thank you.”
“A grant of this size is truly transformational for our small organization, The Parsnip Ship. Not only does it enable us to amplify underrepresented voices in audio storytelling, but it also sustains and revitalizes our programming opportunities to support emerging writers,” said Iyvon E., artistic director and host, The Parsnip Ship.
“The Astoria Film Festival is so very grateful to receive this funding from the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) through the Department of Cultural Affairs,” said Nina Fiore EdM, founding director, Astoria Film Festival. “We have been doing our workforce development work as a labor of love the past few years, and we were not sure if we could continue, given that it was all run through volunteer work and minimal funds. With this award, we are heartened to know that we can continue and even expand our programming. We are committed to our youth and our community, and to promoting representation of historically-ignored groups in the media industry, both in front of and behind the camera, and this grant helps us do just that.”
“The Paige Fraser Foundation, Inc. (TPFF) is deeply grateful to NYC Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Development Fund for the 2023 grant we received. This funding will allow us to expand our free, accessible, equitable, and inclusive programs such as Dance is Healing; Stars 2 Be; Comic Book Series; Behind the Music, and other performing arts and wellness programs,” said Lesmah J. Fraser, president and CEO, TPFF.
“This investment in our organization by the city means that our non-profit organization will continue to nurture professional artists, youths, students, adults and seniors, and will allow us to serve audiences with incredible programming from all divisions of Creative Outlet,” said Jamel Gaines, founder and executive artistic director, Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet. The award received from the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) will make sure that Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet’s annual Black History Month production of ‘REMEMBERING’ will be a huge success. With the support of CDF, we are thrilled to be presenting eight extraordinary performances to thousands of Brooklyn students and community members at BAM Fishman in February 2023. This award will not only help with our production costs, but it will also help to employ over thirty professional artists.”
“It is wonderful to see the Department of Cultural Affairs continue to manifest the goals outlined in CreateNYC by supporting more people of color-centered organizations, extending more multiyear grants, and expanding more disability access,” said Kemi Ilesanmi, executive director, The Laundromat Project and chair, Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission. “Each of these investments makes our city and cultural landscape more equitable, sustainable, joyful, and culturally rich for all.”
“Oye Group is deeply grateful to receive a Cultural Development Fund award from the Department of Cultural Affairs. This CDF award supports us in strengthening our ‘Shake on the Block’ program, which introduces Brooklyn youth to Shakespeare and the theater production process. We believe in teaching our students about the value of their creative work and the responsibility of being a professional artist. With this CDF funding, we’ll not only continue this program, we’ll also continue to provide the next generation of New York theater makers with participation stipends to reinforce the value of their hard work,” said Modesto ‘Flako’ Jimenez, founder and artistic director, Oye Group.
“The DCLA Grant Award is essential to the core operation of the Conference House Association,” said Evelyn Lacagnino, board member, The Conference House Association. “These funds are vital in supporting our efforts to fulfil our mission. The mission is to provide educational programs and cultural events and experiences to the New York City community we serve. The grant ensures that we are able to preserve the rich cultural and historical heritage that the Conference House represents.”
“The Noel Pointer Foundation cannot overstate the importance of the Cultural Development Fund on our efforts to cultivate musicians from underserved communities citywide,” said Chinita Pointer, CEO, Noel Pointer Foundation. “A virtual lifeline in an unprecedented turbulent era, funding from the Department of Cultural Affairs has helped sustain NPF’s music programs both within schools across the boroughs and at our home base of Bed Stuy. Together we are tackling disparities and increasing access to artistically rigorous music instruction so that every child may enjoy the transformative benefits of learning a string instrument.”
“DCLA provides vital support that enables the Tenement Museum to honor and share the stories of historic immigrant, migrant, and refugee families to build learning, empathy, and connection in the world today,” said Annie Polland, president, Tenement Museum. “We are proud to serve tens of thousands of New Yorkers each year, including K-12 students and recent arrivals, and to celebrate our city’s rich history with visitors from across the country and the globe. As we continue to rebuild after the pandemic, support from the DCLA is more important than ever before.”
“This increased support from NYC Department of Cultural affairs will directly benefit a growing community of BIPOC documentary filmmakers whose work reflects and projects the diversity that defines New York City,” said Marcia Smith, president & co-founder, Firelight Media. “We are grateful to Mayor Eric Adams, Speaker Adrienne Adams and the City Council for supporting Firelight Media’s efforts to build a diverse and equitable nonfiction media industry and to change false narratives about communities of color.”
The $58.1 million — representing $52 million in mayoral funds and $6.1 million in City Councilmember items — includes:
- Equity-based increases for groups located or operating in underserved communities: $2.5 million was directed to groups to 568 groups working in underserved communities, including 33 priority neighborhoods established by the city’s Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity, as well as neighborhoods identified by the Social Impact of the Arts Project.
- Disability and Language Access: Mayoral funding also included $1 million for two programs that grew from CreateNYC cultural plan — the Disability Forward Fund and Language Access Fund — which have been integrated into this round of grants. For Disability Forward, 49 organizations received support for programs that engage people with disabilities as artists, cultural workers, and audience members. For Language Access, 55 groups received support for programming that increases access to arts and culture for those whose primary language is not English.
- Support for artists and small organizations:A total of $2.93 million for regrant to small arts organizations and individual artists in each of the five boroughs was provided, maintaining this historically high level of support for the city’s local cultural producers.
- Support for local priorities: 262 organizations received City Council discretionary member items — funding that supports arts programming in each member’s district.
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