Let Mayor Adams know that you support and prioritize POC arts communities.
February 16, 2022
The Honorable Mayor Eric Adams
New York, NY 10007
Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer
DCLA Deputy Commissioner Sheelah Feinberg
City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams
City Council Member Chi Osse
City Council Member Eric Dinowitz
City Council Member Amanda Farias
City Council Member Sandra Ung
City Council Member Crystal Hudson
City Council Member Shahana Hanif
City Council Member Rita Joseph
City Council Member Farah N. Louis
Dear Mayor Adams,
First, we’d like to thank you for your leadership and commitment thus far in stewarding New York City through such a challenging time. This is undeniably one of the toughest times our city will ever face. In the midst of this, we appreciate your promise to help keep our communities safe, our economy growing, and the cultural life of our city thriving.
On behalf of HueArts NYC, we write to offer recommendations and clear action steps to ensure that all of New York City’s arts and cultural assets are included in your vision. HueArts NYC is the only citywide hub of 400+ arts entities founded, led by, and serving Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color. These arts entities—across all five boroughs—are a critical element in the vibrant creative and cultural landscape that defines New York City. Often founded as grassroots efforts, they offer their artists, cultural producers, and community members places to express creativity and places to belong. They offer art, history, and pride as well as opportunities such as jobs, mentorship, and dreams. They showcase the rich stories and creative practices that make up the tapestry of NYC’s communities of color. POC arts entities are major contributions to American arts and culture.
Besides our expansive “Brown Paper” report, HueArts NYC is also a dynamic online map and directory that spotlights 412 POC-founded and -centered arts entities. This resource offers greater visibility and connection for communities of color that have had to grapple with systemic racism and chronic disinvestment for generations, and are now being devastated by the pandemic.
Our research—across more than 100 conversations, forums, and surveys—highlights critical information about the people, communities, cultural assets, economic impact, and the social relevance of POC arts activities throughout the city. We want you and your team to be the first to hear the six key findings from this extensive inquiry:
- POC arts entities are deeply embedded in their communities and often relied upon to provide more than just arts programming.
- POC arts entities are often connected to a sense of place and neighborhood but rarely have a truly stable space of their own.
- POC arts entities are resourceful and resilient in the face of a long history of structural racism, chronic under-investment, and limited financial support.
- The dearth of data and metrics on POC arts entities in NYC is significant and remarkable, creating barriers to truly comprehensive field knowledge, visibility, and impact.
- Increased staff capacity and the ability to support artists are urgent and fundamental priorities for POC arts entities.
- POC arts entities face extra layers of challenges to secure adequate funding in comparison to predominantly white-led arts entities.
To uphold the good and dismantle the challenges, we have also outlined six recommendations that your administration, our city’s policymakers, and the philanthropic community can take to radically shift cultural equity across NYC:
- Create a designated $100M fund for POC arts and cultural entities
- Establish a substantive baseline budget line for POC arts in the City’s annual budget
- Invest in place as a long-term strategy for POC art stability and thrivability
- Foster career- and community-building among arts professionals at POC arts entities
- Consistently collect data that furthers knowledge and promotes equity in the arts
- Invest in higher and sustained visibility for POC arts entities in NYC
Global crisis or not, many POC-led arts entities systemically operate on the brink; and yet, make a way out of no way. They continue to be resourceful, resilient, and resolute. Now is the time to help us move beyond the persistent mode of survival. As the city reevaluates and rebuilds the structures that sustain our communities, we hope the above recommendations offer an essential and actionable framework to help our arts sector become truly equitable and thriving for all.
Thank you for your time and for your leadership. We look forward to working with you in the coming months to get stuff done for our cultural community, and to get it done well – in a way that enriches the lives and experiences of all New Yorkers. We, the co-signers of this letter, stand with and for the 400+ arts entities founded by, led by, and serving Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color across New York City.
Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham, Museum Hue
Kemi Ilesanmi, The Laundromat Project
Rasmia Kirmani, Hester Street
Pia Agrawal, Staten Island Arts
Caron Atlas, Arts & Democracy and Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts NY
Isis Awad, Executive Care
Randi Berry, The Indie Theater Fund/IndieSpace
Alisa Besher, Center for the Humanities, CUNY Graduate Center
Michelle Bishop, Harlem Needle Arts
Veronica Campanelli, Independent Curator
Andrew Clarke, Braata Productions
Raymond Codrington, Weeksville Heritage Center
Jennifer Wright Cook, The Field
Veronica Cromwell, St. Andrew’s Playground in Brooklyn
Cinthia De La Rosa, Hester Street
Elsie Deliz, Taller Boricua
Timothy Edwaujonte, Owo Foro Adobe
Haitham Eid, Southern University at New Orleans
Lolita Fierro, Art21
Lulu Fogarty, Bridging Education and Art Together
Tara Foster, MTA Arts & Design
Diane Fraher, American Indian Artists Inc. (AMERINDA)
Ximena Garnica, LEIMAY
Angel Gil Orrios, Thalia Spanish Theatre, Inc.
Andrea Gordillo, The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, Inc.
Floor Grootenhuis, Hunter College
Libertad Guerra, The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center
Jannette Jwahir Hawkins, Artist
Aya Hayashi, People’s Theatre Project
Brandy Heyward, Sisters in Sharqui, Inc.
Ibi Ibrahim, Independent Artist
Kayhan Irani, Artivista Productions
Sarah James, Phillips Oppenheim