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Art Workers Rally To Demand Equitable Relief Now & A Precedent For Systemic Change

Art Workers Rally To Demand Equitable Relief Now & A Precedent For Systemic Change


Art Workers Rally


Foley Square
Lafayette Street, Worth Street, Centre St
New York, NY 10013


Saturday, May 8, 2021 - 12:00am



Art Workers Rally

Art Workers Rally
To Demand Equitable Relief Now
A Precedent For Systemic Change

Saturday, March 8, 2021
 12:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Foley Square

Funding Justice is Racial Justice!
Black, Indigenous, POC, Disabled/Deaf, Immigrant, Elders, Women, LGBTQA+
Art Workers


New York City Arts Workers will gather in solidarity on Saturday, May 8, 2021, from 12:00 am to 2:00 pm at Foley Square to demand immediate financial relief and a long-term commitment to funding artists, marginalized communities, and to prioritize those hardest hit by Covid-19. Art workers encompass independent artists, and all those employed in arts and cultural groups in various capacities; from administrators and curators to stagehands and others.

Across New York City and State, the art workers suffered a devastating year as a result of the refusal of city and state government to consider independent artists and those who work in cultural organizations as workers and small arts organizations as businesses deserving of relief support. Arts Workers'  message to the government:
Trickle-down funding leaves arts workers last and chronically underfunded.
Funding Justice is Racial Justice. 

As the state is poised to receive an estimated $12B in federal relief funds and the city to receive an estimated $6 billion, arts workers propose the following four principles to provide immediate relief, enable the sector to open safely, and help rebuild New York' state economy:
Recognition of Arts Workers as Vital for our Communities - In moments of crisis and pain, the work of artists helps us to heal, build and transform. Arts Workers can be part of the solution to New York’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.  While communities routinely receive proven positive benefits in economy, public health, education, and safety from Arts Workers’ labor, our government has historically under invested and inequitably distributed the resources their work requires, further marginalizing our most vulnerable populations. Arts Workers must be the primary beneficiaries of relief funds to create a just and robust recovery of the cultural assets of our city and state.
Financial Relief with Equity for the Public Good - Arts workers imagine, build and transform communities. Art creates culture. Black, indigenous, POC, disabled/Deaf, immigrant, elders, women, LGBTQIA+, and independent Arts Workers must be at the center of New York City culture to achieve equity. Relief money must go directly to Arts Workers whose survival is at risk and who have been traditionally excluded from operational grants, programs and labor protections. An immediate and long-term commitment to funding communities in our art ecosystem that prioritizes historically marginalized Arts Workers will bring equity to the distribution of public monies. Equity and art are both a public good.
Financial Relief as Precedent for Systemic Changes - The government must stop viewing independent Arts Workers and small arts organizations as too small to fund. Organizations with greater capacity and access must acknowledge the unfair influence their size gives them; their work depends on Arts Workers and smaller artist-led groups and they must restructure their organizations and advocacy to reflect this reality. In this historic moment, government relief should prioritize this idea and set precedents for revamping cultural funding by considering artists as Workers, cultural workers as Workers, and small arts nonprofits as Businesses. Government agencies must distribute relief equitably and relief funds should pave the way to address the normalized inequality of the art field. Equity places marginalized Arts Workers at the center of advocacy and this must be the future of arts funding in New York City and State.
Workforce Program - New York Arts Workers need a long-term, robust, and multilayered workforce program to center them as workers and small community-based art nonprofits as platforms for workers. Art fuels culture and culture fuels the economy that strengthens our social fabric and ensures our quality of life; the labor of Arts Workers is essential to everything that we love about New York and this must be reflected in our budgets. Livable wages, health and other benefits, and prioritizing direct funding to marginalized artists must be achieved through a bold art workforce program that builds upon the legacy of programs like the WPA and CETA models.
Expansion of the State/ City Budget for the Arts - Doubling a New York State Council on the Arts budget that continues to exclude Arts Workers from direct grants and small art nonprofits from operational grant awards does not provide adequate relief because the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs don’t provide equitable funding in the first place. The vast majority of arts funding in New York City and State goes to the 34 Cultural Institutions Groups’ (CIGs) who are not getting enough funding as it is. Independent Arts Workers and small arts organizations need a pie of their own. Additionally, equity and art as a public good stretches beyond the New York State Council on the Arts and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Arts Workers deserve relief from the Department of Labor and Department of Education and other agencies for the work they do that touches many facets of life in New York. An equitable plan for the distribution of relief to the arts now should include this approach and serve as a blueprint for future arts funding.
Artists, art workers and small arts groups are all essential elements to a healthy and vital arts ecosystem.  Without art workers, there are no art institutions and organizations.  Funding must come from the ground-up because a rising tide lifts all boats, while trickle-down causes everyone to sink. 


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