Read Our Executive Director’s Testimony to the City Council Last Week

David Johnston

New York City Council

Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Committee
Council Chambers – City Hall
Executive Budget Hearing Testimony FY16
Tuesday June 9, 2015 1 PM


Since 1982, Exploring the Metropolis (EtM) has focused on solving the workspace needs of New York’s performing artists.  Currently, we administer the EtM Con Edison Composers’ Residency, now starting its seventh year.

Since 2009, we have provided over $100,000 worth of direct financial support to 41 NYC-based composers and seven cultural/community facilities.  We have provided over 12,000 hours of free rehearsal space, with a cash value of almost $300,000, and presented 40 free public programs to New York City audiences.

In 2014, with the support of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), we released our report, “Queens Performing Artists & Workspace,” part of our Queens Workspace Initiative. Based on our findings in this report, we are partnering this fall with the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning to create interdisciplinary workspace residencies for Queens-based choreographers and composers.

EtM’s Choreographer + Composer Residencies in partnership with JCAL will be providing eight performing artists (4 composers, 4 choreographers) with 120 hours of free rehearsal space, along with a stipend and additional support for public programs for Jamaica audiences.

Through our EtM Con Edison Composers’ Residency, we will be offering five NYC-based composers six months of free rehearsal space in a community/cultural facility plus a stipend of $2,500.  Each composer then performs a free public program in cooperation with their host facility.

This year, our host facilities are: Bloomingdale School of Music, Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy, Flushing Town Hall, Lighthouse Guild International, and Turtle Bay Music School.  Our deadline for the Composers’ Residency was Monday June 1. We received 94 applications, more than double the amount we have received in the past.  

We feel this number speaks clearly to the need for affordable workspace and support for artists in New York City.

The cultural community is united in asking for a $30 million increase in funding for the Department of Cultural Affairs to be divided evenly between with Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) and the Cultural Development Fund (CDF) in order to expand access to culture for all New Yorkers.

The adopted DCA budget for FY15 was $158 million. Our requested $30 million increase would restore the funding to the FY08 amount — $186 million when adjusted for inflation.

With increased funding, EtM could:

•    Increase the number of composers’ residencies, and expand the program into underutilized host facilities we have identified in western Queens, Fort Greene and the Rockaways.  

•    Expand the EtM Choreographer + Composer Residency in Jamaica, making it year-round and offering more time, technical resources and funding

•    Document and archive our artists’ programs

We thank you for your time in listening to these artists today. We look forward to continuing to build partnerships and collaborations between city government and the cultural community in order to better serve all New Yorkers.

David Johnston
Executive Director
Exploring the Metropolis


Post a comment