On January 18, Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer’s cultural package, the largest package of legislation to ever come out of the Committee on Cultural Affairs and Libraries, was passed unanimously by the City Council.

New York City Council Passes Legislation to Increase Diversity and Transparency in Arts Programming

The New York City Council has announced that it has passed its first-ever package of cultural legislation since the Department of Cultural Affairs was established in 1976, in addition to the largest set of reforms to the Percent for Art Program, which requires that one percent of the budget for eligible city-funded construction projects be spent on public artwork.

On January 18, six bills proposed by majority leader Jimmy Van Bramer were unanimously approved by the council. The bills will create an improved feedback process for the Percent for Art program, allow greater financial support for projects, encourage diversity among commissions, and require greater transparency and reporting from the Art Commission and the Cultural Institutions Group. They will also ask community members to sit on the Percent for Art panels so that more community input will be considered on projects.

“These pieces of legislation will bring more transparency and accountability to the public art process and strengthen the programs that help make our city the cultural capital of the world,” Van Bramer said. “New York City is better with more public art, more ambitious public art, and public art in every neighborhood. That is what this package will accomplish.”

The city council currently allocates more than $25 million every year to its cultural initiatives, which include programs such as the Cultural After School Adventure Program, SU-CASA, and the Cultural Immigrant Initiative. Established to place artists and arts organizations in residence at senior centers, SU-CASA is now the nation’s largest art program specifically aimed at working with seniors.

New York City is also in the process of developing its first-ever cultural plan to increase investment in the arts over an extended timeframe, which was required by legislation passed by Van Bramer and council member Stephen T. Levin in 2015.