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New York City Cultural Agenda Fund
in The New York Community Trust

Supporting Cultural Advocacy, Policy, and Equity in New York City

The Fund’s 2015 RFP for Planning Grants for participants in its Cultural Advocacy & Equity Program is now available.

Established in 2014, the New York City Cultural Agenda Fund is a donor collaborative that helps to strengthen the City’s arts advocacy network and advance cultural policy and equity. In addition to The New York Community Trust, donors to the Fund include the Booth Ferris Foundation, Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, Lambent Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and David Rockefeller Fund. The Fund aims to:

  1. Strengthen Advocacy – Fortify and connect the network of arts and culture advocates in New York City;
  2. Influence Policy – Promote a cohesive and equitable cultural policy and integrate culture into City policies across multiple sectors; and
  3. Advance Equity – Ensure small, community arts groups, groups led by people of color, and culturally and economically diverse artists are as valued for their contributions to the City’s cultural ecology as larger institutions.

The Fund makes grants to support research, technical assistance to the field, and other initiatives that seek to advance its cultural advocacy, policy, and equity goals. The Fund also organizes briefings to review current research in arts and cultural and encourage practical application of findings. Follow the Fund’s progress by reading its periodic blog posts on Philanthropy New York’s website. Blog posts to date include:

Why Cultural Policy is Critical for New York City (posted June 12, 2015)

Advancing Racial Equity in Arts and Culture, Part 1 (posted August 28, 2015)

If you are a funder interested in joining the Fund, please contact program associate Salem Tsegaye at or 212-686-0010 x658.

Grants Supporting Research

In December 2014, the Fund made its first grant of $125,000 to the University of Pennsylvania’s Social Impact of the Arts Project. For more than 20 years, this Project has conducted research that demonstrates non-economic value generated by the arts. As part of a multi-city study on social wellbeing, neighborhood transformation, and the arts, the group will develop comprehensive measures of social wellbeing for New York City—including an inventory of cultural assets—and document the relationship between wellbeing and the City’s cultural ecology.

In July 2015, the Fund made a grant of $50,215 to The Graduate Center of the City University of New York to pilot a new cultural policy research fellowship, which will be jointly overseen by CUNY’s Center for Urban Research and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. The fellow will receive training in data analysis and visualization and be expected to write reports, white papers, briefs on current arts policy issues; harness existing datasets to produce quick profiles for public dissemination; and contribute to public dialogue using various media, among other responsibilities.

Grants Supporting Technical Assistance

In April 2015, the Fund developed its Cultural Advocacy & Equity Program, a series of four workshops to afford 49 arts advocates space, time, and resources to collectively generate ideas for improving advocacy coordination and fostering an equitable arts and culture landscape. The Fund worked with Race Forward, The Opportunity Agenda, i2i Experience, and Hester Street Collaborative to provide these workshops. The following groups were awarded $2,000 grants to participate in the Program.

  • Alice Austen House
  • Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts
  • Artist Volunteer Center
  • Arts & Democracy Project
  • Asian American Arts Alliance
  • Asian American Writers’ Workshop
  • BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn
  • Bronx Council on the Arts
  • Bronx Museum of the Arts
  • Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Brooklyn Arts Council
  • Brooklyn Children’s Museum
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute
  • Center for Arts Education
  • Chamber Music America
  • Children’s Museum of the Arts
  • Dance/NYC
  • El Museo del Barrio
  • El Puente de Williamsburg
  • Elders Share the Arts
  • The Field
  • Flushing Town Hall
  • Gibney Dance
  • Groundswell Community Mural Project
  • Harlem Arts Alliance
  • Harlem Stage
  • HB Studio
  • Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy
  • Lark Play Development Center
  • The Laundromat Project
  • Lewis Latimer Historic House Museum
  • Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
  • The Martin E. Segal Theatre Center
  • Museum of Chinese in America
  • Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts
  • National Museum of the American Indian-New York
  • Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York
  • New York City Arts Coalition
  • New York Foundation for the Arts
  • One Percent for Culture
  • Park Avenue Armory
  • People’s Climate Arts
  • Printed Matter
  • The Public Theater
  • Queens Museum
  • Spaceworks
  • Staten Island Museum
  • White Columns


To encourage ongoing dialogue among arts advocates and members of philanthropy, the Fund regularly organizes briefings.

In March 2015, the Fund brought together cultural advocates, City government, and arts funders to learn from other cities that have taken on cultural planning, including Boston, Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia, and Tucson. Watch the below video recording to learn how New York City can better prepare for the cultural planning it will soon undertake.

In January 2015, researchers Mark Stern and Susan Seifert from the Social Impact of the Arts Project, University of Pennsylvania, briefed City arts and culture advocates on their plans for City research.

In October 2014, University of Texas at Arlington researchers Carl Grodach, James Murdoch, and Nicole Foster shared findings from Art Spaces, Art Places: Examining Neighborhood Preferences of New York Arts Organizations. The report found a lack of association between NYC arts groups and poor neighborhoods. It also challenged the assumption that the arts tend to locate in ethnic and disadvantaged neighborhoods.

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.