$2.8M from Met admission fees will be allocated to 175 NYC cultural organizations

March 19, 2019

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When the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced it would start charging non-New Yorkers $25 for admission and waive its pay-what-you-wish policy for the first time since 1970, most people reacted with disapproval. But there was an under-the-radar benefit to this new policy: The Met agreed to share a portion of the new revenue from admission fees with the city, to be used by the Department of Cultural Affairs in support of the CreateNYC plan. A year after the admission fees went into effect, the de Blasio administration has announced that $2.8 million in additional funding will be allocated to over 175 cultural organizations in underserved communities throughout the five boroughs.

“New York is the cultural capital of the world not only because of our hallmark institutions, but because of the smaller museums, shows, and organizations throughout the five boroughs,” said Mayor de Blasio in a statement. “They deserve meaningful investment too. This agreement has allowed the Met to thrive while giving us a unique opportunity to increase cultural investment in our underserved communities – allowing us to support the diversity that makes our city great at no additional cost to taxpayers.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the Met was able to charge mandatory admission to visitors who are not residents of New York State. In turn, the Met would share a portion of its admissions revenue in the first year. After that, DCLA will permanently lower the Met’s annual subsidy proportionally based on admissions revenue and direct this funding to other cultural organizations according to the priorities outlined in the CreateNYC cultural plan, which focuses on increasing cultural funding for historically underserved organizations and communities. The funds this year were targeted toward communities identified by the Social Impact of the Arts Project, a study of New York’s “neighborhood cultural ecosystem” which mapped cultural assets across the city.

Half of the funding, $1.4 million, will go toward Cultural Development Fund recipients. More than 160 groups will receive funds ranging from $1000 to $40,000, including Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center in the Bronx, Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, Harlem Stage in Manhattan, Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens, and St. George Theater in Staten Island.

The remaining $1.4 million will be distributed to members of the Cultural Institutions Group located in underserved communities. The long-term goal is to provide greater equity among its members. The funding increases range from $25,000 to $175,000 which will be given out to institutions like the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, El Museo del Barrio, Studio Museum in Harlem, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Staten Island Children’s Museum, and Bronx Museum of the Arts.

Museum officials said that the $2.8 million payment reflects $800,000 of increased revenue from the 2018 fiscal year, plus an estimate of $2 million for what they expect will be generated for the 2019 fiscal year.

“This agreement with the Met has paid dividends for NYC’s cultural community,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Stabilizing one of our City’s major institutions with increased admissions revenue, while providing a much-needed boost to organizations that anchor communities across the City.”

Daniel Weiss, President and CEO of The Met added that the admissions policy is performing “precisely as we hoped it would,” as the Museum continues to welcome record levels of visitors. The museum took in $48.2 million in admissions in the 2018 fiscal year, up from $42.8 million in the 2017 fiscal year.

“It is a great day in New York City when visitors to one of our extraordinary museums help level the playing field for smaller cultural treasures in underserved communities,” said Chair of the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission Susana Leval. “Cultural equity at work!”

See a full list of the recipient organizations here.



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