Leaders from Brooklyn’s vibrant cultural organizations joined City Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo on Tuesday at Brooklyn Music School to celebrate millions of capital funding allocated for the arts and culture as part of the city’s fiscal year 2020 budget.

The funding, said Cumbo, is a much-needed investment that will keep the borough vibrant and economically thriving.

“Today is such an exciting day because we are celebrating so many of our capital wins, particularly in the cultural community,” said Cumbo who represents the 35th District including Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights and Prospect Height. “Culture is a major part of our district. There are hundreds of cultural organizations, big, medium-sized and small. Thousands of people come every single year in order to experience our art and culture and to spend their money here.”

Among the Brooklyn institutions that will receive funding for projects, renovations and capital improvements are the Brooklyn Music School, BAM, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Museum and Irondale Theater, as well as educational institutions like Medgar Evers College and Pratt Institute, among others. 

One of the largest allocations will be made to the Brooklyn Public Library and the NYC Library System. From its $92.8 billion budget, the city will be shelling out an additional $10 million, upping the libraries’ allocation to $33 million.

The Brooklyn Museum will receive $4.2 million to establish a wing for African art, which will also incorporate the existing Egyptian collection.

Brooklyn Music School will get close to $2.3 million to renovate the playhouse it has occupied since it opened in 1910; the school has not received any real capital investment in almost a hundred years.

BAM’s Rose Cinema will be undergoing a major overhaul with reconfigured seating for improved accessibility, new furniture and equipment thanks to $1 million in city funding. With its $59,000 allocation, Fort Greene’s Irondale Theater will install a new audio/ infrared hearing system to meet the needs of hearing-impaired audiences and artists.

The influx of additional money will also benefit Brooklyn’s green spaces: Commodore Barry Park will receive $2 million and Prospect Park $1 million for capital improvements. Brooklyn Botanic Garden will be given $2 million to improve access for visitors with mobility challenges to its Rose Garden and auditorium. 

For Cumbo, cultural and arts funding is fundamental, especially in her district that is home to countless cultural organizations that are creating jobs and attracting visitors from all over the city, the country and the world.

“We want a place that’s vibrant, that’s full of culture, that’s exciting so that people are coming from all over the world to experience it,” said Cumbo. “Brooklyn’s got a special sauce. We’ve got to protect that sauce, and we’ve got to make sure that artists are able to create and live here in New York City.”

The council will adopt the budget by June 30, before the next fiscal year begins on July 1. To take a look at the budget, go here.

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Andrea Leonhardt

“Made in Germany,” Andrea Leonhardt is the managing editor for BK Reader. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree in political science, with minors in American studies and education, and a master’s...

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