“July of 2013, I had the honor of attending the Mayoral Candidate Forum for Arts and Culture in New York City. I was curious to see what these men and women were aware of (in terms of the serious disparities with funding and support of the arts) and what they offer as their goals—how they draw from a philosophical to practical stand point—what their first steps would be towards the arts and education support and investment in New York.
That night I saw Republicans that have no plan for the arts, with some exception to Joe Lhota, a lot of these candidates didn’t fully grasp the issue of how New York: being the center of the world in terms of the arts—we bring in billions in the name of the arts—but in terms of the support we give Artists here, zilch! It’s sad. Because these creative movements were the first to revitalize communities then get priced out of the neighborhood (when real-estate caught on) while business and development contractors boom and keeping booming here.
Today, i’ve learned that each student is getting $2.00 invested from our current budget, vs the $65 less than a few years ago. Sadly the Bloomy effect lives on, he cut more and more public funding and left many agents here in the arts arena—that give New York it’s pulse and revenue—weaving the fabric of diverse community with no aspirational ladders to even think of being lower middle class, in fact affordability living in New York has become more difficult even while development is at an all time high here. While Bloomberg was in many ways a billionaire and stuck to his Oligarchy mentality, it’s frighting to see Mayor Bill De Blasio seem like a third term Bloomy. New York has a 70 Billion dollar budget and we allocate just under %1 for the arts yet we shell out billions to keep the banks here at any cost, continue to allow the rampant abuse of power within our housing crisis, while taxpayers pay for our big brother police state to play out its game of total abuse of freedom, in respect to the constitution and common decency. But yet here we are finding any money possible to bail them out yet we can’t even have art teachers in schools. Our priorities are not in the minds of people who have investments too deep in the well of money to give them another choice. I know for certain we need a holistic rebuilding of the entire approach to education in NY (and the country at large) to push away from a factory result driven system to the experience of learning, and how art and music are the critical method of any students learning experience, life skill acquisition, and social sense of belonging. Studies show this, the science backs this, yet our demands and rights are slowly being taken away from us while the suffocating infiltration of money in politics backed by corporate entities hopes to guarantee this.
That night I wanted to hope that deep down someone would know out of all states why New York needs an educational rebuild and how arts can be a key method of doing so. The future market needs creative thinkers to solve our multifaceted problems, not test takers! And now i’m beginning to think we need to solve these problems together, because we can’t afford to wait for an elected official to step in and challenge the status quo, their hands are in the proverbial cookie jar.” – N.G.Salaam