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Recovery for All of Us | NYC Announces City Artist Corps, a $25 Million Revitalization Program

Stage Directions • Industry News • May 20, 2021

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs announced a $25 million investment in local artists as part of the arts and culture revitalization program, City Artist Corps, which will employ over 1,500 artists by putting them back to work throughout New York City with live performances, pop-up concerts, public art installations, and more. In his announcement,

De Blasio commented that the City Artist Corps is inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Federal Art Project, a part of the Works Progress Administration that came out of the New Deal to revitalize the economy after the Great Depression. This could be a model for many cities in getting their arts workers back to work in a positive manner.

The Artist Corps builds on the recently announced City Cleanup Corps (CCC), a New Deal-inspired economic recovery program to directly create 10,000 jobs and make New York City the cleanest, greenest city in the United States. Projects could include performances, public artworks, pop-up shows through New York City’s Summer Rising program, new murals, and canvasses, and more.

“Art and artists make New York City the cultural capital of the world, and the artistic community has an essential role in building a recovery for all of us,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “The City Artist Corps will tap into our greatest resource – New Yorkers’ boundless creativity – to create jobs and make our city more beautiful and vibrant than ever.”

“Our artists have been one of the hardest hit communities during the pandemic. Making sure these essential workers have the support they need to succeed in New York City is inextricably linked to a recovery for all of us,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “I am thrilled that the City Artist Corps will provide support to our performers, artists, and musicians as they continue to liven and brighten up our city. Their talent, passion, wisdom will lead us into the greatest comeback this city has ever seen.”

“The City Artist Corps is a historic investment in local artists, putting money in their pockets while bringing transformative power of culture to New Yorkers across the city,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. “Starting this summer, we’ll put artists to work in communities, collaborating with and inspiring their fellow New Yorkers. A recovery for all has to include culture, which is such an important part of healthy, vibrant neighborhoods. Building on efforts to lift up all residents and spur New York’s recovery, the City Artist Corps will bring public spaces to life in all five boroughs and make sure the Summer of New York City is a Summer of Art.”

“We are pleased to be able to support the NYC Artist Corps as we work to get our creative economy up and running,” said Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Anne del Castillo. “Creative New Yorkers are what drive our reputation as a global cultural capital; we can’t wait to see how they will make our city bloom with arts, culture and inspiration.”

The City will dedicate grant funding to collaborate with thousands of local artists, working across disciplines to reflect the full breadth and depth of New York City’s cultural community. Similarly taking inspiration from past federal programs like the Works Progress Administration and CETA Artists program, the City Artist Corps will invest directly in local artists to beautify and activate public spaces and spur the city’s recovery.

This major new initiative joins a number of other efforts currently underway to support the city’s cultural community while bringing the arts back to New York. The Open Culture program has been activating streets with programming since March; in April, the City opened a vaccination site in Times Square targeted to performing arts, film, and TV workers.

“New York City has achieved such great wealth in part because of its artistic residents. Clearly, funding the arts is a great fiscal investment. The money injected into the arts world has a multiplying effect on the economy. The Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights communities I represent have seen a multiplicity of benefits from those investments. I appointed an ambassador for arts and culture, devoting attention as a Council office to the vibrant arts community in central Brooklyn. Due to our collective efforts and advocacy, Weeksville Heritage Center is a City Cultural Institutions Group member now, and we have built strong partnerships with artistic pillars like the Billie Holliday Theatre and Restoration ART. As a City Council representative, it is my fiscal duty to be a sound steward of our budget. But there is an even more uplifting reason to make this investment. Our City has been through an emotional trauma that is not over. Are we going to grow from these experiences or be re-traumatized? I chose to rise up through our grief and our stress and our isolation and find new ways to inspire the world. I chose to find new ways to inspire ourselves. I chose to support the Artists Corp. Today we are not only making a financial investment. We are investing in hope. We are investing in beauty. We are saying that our humanity as New Yorkers is worth celebrating,” said Council Member Robert E. Cornegy, Jr.

“There is no recovery for New York City that does not include the cultural community. Our artists and cultural community are what makes New York City the cultural capital of the world. Many cultural workers have been out of work for more than a year, with few paid opportunities to showcase their talents. This community and their work is an essential part of this city’s recovery. I look forward to our streets being full of dance, music, murals, and joy,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer.


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