Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Meeting 2/9/10

February 10, 2010

Serrano Chairs Committee Meeting with Arts Organizations Regarding Governor's Proposed Budget, Discusses Patterson's 21-Day Amendment

(Albany, NY)- After chairing a meeting of the Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee yesterday, Senator José M. Serrano (D-Manhattan/Bronx) reported that Governor David A. Patterson’s release of his 21-day amendment to the 2010-11 Executive Budget was a small step in the right direction in regards to the restoration of funding for the arts.

The amendment included an increase in the funding from Patterson’s initial budget proposal for The New York State Theatre Institute (NYSTI) and for the Empire State Plaza Performing Arts Center Corporation (The Egg).
During yesterday’s committee meeting Serrano had the opportunity to hear statements from David Morris, Chairman of the NYSTI Board of Directors, as well as from Peter Lesser Executive Director of The Egg. 

“I received hundreds of letters from arts advocates and supporters, and it seems that the Governor is beginning to get the message that Arts funding is important to our society as well as to our economy. However, we still have a long way to go in the path of restoring Arts funding for these and other organizations that educate and enhance our communities, but also serve as revenue generators for the State of New York.”

In the Governor’s original budget proposal, The Egg would lose all funding, and the budget for NYSTI would be cut by more than half. In the recent amendment, The Egg would receive $245,000 in state funding for 2010-2011, and NYSTI would also undergo slightly reduced cuts. However these subsidies would be eliminated in the 2011-12 fiscal year, when both public benefit corporations would be expected to fully support their operating budgets through non-state revenue sources.

“Let us keep in mind that while these partial restorations in funding are an improvement over the Governor’s initial cuts, they are nowhere near the funding these programs have received in past years, and we must c
ontinue to advocate for arts-based programs in New York that depend on state funding.”

Serrano encouraged arts supporters and advocates to make their presence felt on February 24, for Albany Arts Day 2010. “Arts Day will be an opportunity for all those who care about the Arts, and who view them as an educational, cultural, and revenue generating vehicle to make their voices heard so that this important sector of New York’s economy, and central staple of its character is not overlooked during the current budget season.