July 15, 2010; Source: Wall Street Journal | When New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg ended a grants program several months ago that paid more than $175 million over eight years from his personal wealth to a number of the city’s social service and arts and cultural organizations, many of these same groups had hoped the Bloomberg Family Foundation would make them whole again. According to the Wall Street Journal, not only is no Bloomberg money coming, but now the affected nonprofits have given up waiting and are taking steps to get by with less.
They are laying off employees, reducing pay and, in at least one case, selling items from its collection to raise revenue. Although they know the mayor was under no obligation either personally or through his foundation to continue supporting these organizations, most remained hopeful.
No doubt echoing what was on the minds of many, Tom Finkelpearl, executive director of the Queens Museum of Art, whose organization received nearly $1 million of the mayor’s money since 2002, said, “A lot of people held out hope that some version of that money would still come by the end of this past fiscal year.” Because his past generosity benefited so many organizations, the pain is being felt city-wide. Remedies, however, differ from organization to organization. For instance, a film archive has sold prize photography, while a dance school and performance space instituted a one-day-a-week furlough to reduce pay. A third organization has cut marketing expenses and laid off part-time employees.
The lesson these groups are learning, among others, is not to be too dependent on a single donor. Morgan von Prelle Pecelli, development director of the multidisciplinary arts center Performance Space 122, puts it this way: ” . . . we can’t just think about the one loss or to be banking on it always being there . . . The onus, to some extent, is on all of us to be thinking ahead about all of this and to realize that our funding sources are not the most reliable of things.”—Bruce Trachtenberg