Senator Serrano Calls On Washington To Fund Cultural Institutions And Living Museums

José M. Serrano

February 09, 2009

Chair of the NYS Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee Says Arts are Bread and Butter of State Economy

Albany, NY – New York State Senator José M. Serrano (D-Manhattan/Bronx) today criticized the United States Senate for passage of an amendment that would prevent federal stimulus funding for cultural institutions and living museums throughout the country.

The amendment, put forth by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), would deny funding to museums, zoos, aquariums and theaters. They were bundled into an amendment that also included golf courses and casinos.

"Our cultural institutions and living museums form the bedrock of the tourism industry in New York State, and serve as economic anchors for their respective communities. They create linkages with so many other sectors of the economy, including hotels and restaurants."

The tourism industry draws more than $47 billion into the state economy every year, and creates nearly 740,000 jobs.

In New York City alone, the arts industry generates $904 million in tax revenue every year, and $8.2 billion in wages.

"This is not gambling federal dollars. It's a sure bet," said the Senator.

"In the 1970s, when the Bronx faced difficult times, institutions like the Bronx Zoo and the New York Botanical Garden stuck it out, and helped play a crucial role in fostering the renaissance of the borough. To put them in the same category as golf courses and casinos is a gross misrepresentation.

"These institutions are not just the bread and butter of the cultural community, they put bread and butter on the tables of our families," said Senator Serrano.

The Senator called on conference committee members from the House of Representatives to resist these short-sighted cuts, and reinstate federal stimulus funding for vital institutions.

"Museum jobs and theater jobs are jobs too," said Senator Serrano. "As such, they are every bit as deserving of stimulus funds as the automakers in Detroit and the bankers down on Wall Street."