May 14, 2010; Source: New York Times | Arts and cultural groups in New York are getting ready to color their bottom lines red should the city approve a budget that would dramatically slash their funding in the coming fiscal year. Arts groups face a 31 percent drop and libraries could see their funding slashed by 31 percent. While the plan is subject to debate and a final vote the end of June, some groups are already planning for the worst.
The proposed $37 million cut in funding for The New York Public Library, which would be the most severe ever, would force it to close branches, operate only four instead of six days a week, and cut staff. The reduced support to the library far exceeds the 10 percent cut it suffered in 1975 and 1976 when the city was bankrupt.
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Other institutions facing severe funding drops include the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx (42 percent), which would have to eliminate some 57 jobs, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which stands to lose about 40 percent in city funds. Some city council members are pledging to do what they can to restore funding. Councilman Dominic M. Recchia Jr., said “We’ll try to restore as much as we can. This is the largest cut they’ve proposed — it’s devastating. I’m concerned about some of these organizations having to close one day a week. I’m worried about the layoffs.”
To their credit, groups that will affected by the proposed cuts are also not unsympathetic to the city’s budget woes. They are just asking for a bit more compassion. Arnold L. Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum and chairman of New York’s Cultural Institutions Group — arts groups in city-owned buildings or on city-owned land — told the New York Times, “We are not asking for an entire restoration. We’re asking for a partial restoration that will hopefully prevent some of our members from closing their doors or laying off a number of staff.”—Bruce Trachtenberg