Wiley: “COVID cannot stop our tourism industry from bouncing back– and I have a plan to fix it”
NEW YORK— On day twenty-five of “50 Ideas for NYC,” Maya Wiley released her plan to revitalize tourism, arts, and cultural institutions in New York City today in Herald Square. A Wiley Administration will prioritize revitalizing these industries, which create and support jobs, generate billions in revenue, and are a major part of New York’s culture.
The Covid pandemic has hit New York City’s tourism industry, along with arts and cultural institutions hard. In total, New York City had 43.7 million fewer visitors in 2020, leading to a loss of $1.2 billion in total tax revenue. In addition, employment in the tourism industry dropped a staggering 89,000 jobs, with tourists spending 73% less in 2020.
Wiley’s plan includes:
“New York City’s cultural institutions are coming back – but we must make sure our recovery benefits everyone,” said Maya Wiley. “My proposal takes bold steps to reestablish the City’s status as a global cultural leader and an unparalleled destination for residents and visitors alike. This summer, we must begin New York City’s revival with a Grand Re-Opening Festival built around a week-long series of events throughout the boroughs featuring the best of New York City’s arts, culture and food– signaling a new phase of tourism and culture. COVID cannot stop our tourism industry from bouncing back — and I have a plan to fix it”
“Reviving the arts is central to New York City’s recovery. Right here in Manhattan lives the billion dollar industry known as Broadway,” said Davon Williams of Actors’ Equity Association. “But I challenge that appraisal. What about the parking lots? What about the restaurants, the hotels, and stores that thrive off of the success of Broadway. When you have a strong arts scene, you have a strong economy. Maya is a leader focused on not only reviving New York City’s economy, but ensuring an equitable and safe path forward for all of us who were left out of this economy before the pandemic.”
Arts, Culture & Tourism Platform for a Maya Wiley Administration
New York City’s recovery requires an approach that will safely “re-open” the City’s many cultural gems and encourage tourism, support artists and cultural workers, and build on the pandemic-era embrace of our open spaces. This proposal takes bold steps to reinvigorate the City’s status as a global cultural leader, and an unparalleled destination for residents and visitors alike.
Recovery for Creative Workers and Cultural Institutions
Invest $100 million dollars in a Creative Economy Recovery Program to put arts and culture workers back to work and help cultural institutions to recover.
Traditional performing arts venues have remained fully closed throughout the pandemic. The City must work creatively to promote economic activity while also supporting the arts. Workers have lost wages, many are still struggling with unemployment or underemployment, and many arts jobs vanished during the pandemic. Maya is proposing a $100 million dollar program that will provide direct grants to artists and performers to get them back to work and to cultural organizations and institutions for operating expenses. These grants will prioritize art workers from communities that are underrepresented in these industries and institutions serving communities most impacted by the pandemic, as well as small, community-based organizations.
Launch the Council on Arts Revival with Equity (CARE)
Recovering in a way that captures the needs of the creative economy and its workers is ongoing work that needs ongoing commitment and must be informed by those most impacted and conscious of the needs of this community of workers. Maya will convene the Council on Arts Revival with Equity (CARE), a council of of arts and culture workers, advocates, community leaders, and other relevant experts, who will provide ongoing advice, council, and recommendations on how to ensure that the CIty’s recovery is inclusive of the needs of those working in the creative economy and that relief is being granted in a way designed to promote and foster equity in creative industries.
Stage a Grand Re-Opening
The Grand Reopening is an exciting new way to encourage New Yorkers and tourists to safely re-engage with their City and, at the same, support arts, culture, small business and incentivizes widespread vaccination. The Grand Reopening, built around a week-long festival throughout the boroughs in September, will signal a new phase for tourism and culture and showcase all that the City has to offer, featuring the best of New York City’s arts, culture, and food. Building on proposals from the Center for Urban Future and others, Maya is calling on the Administration to immediately put the following plan in motion.
Make New York City a Better Place for Artists and Others in the Cultural and Tourism Industries to Live and Work
Protect Performing Artists
Many of the City’s performing artists, and the thousands of other workers that make their work possible, work on Broadway or at Lincoln Center. These venues are critical not only for the world-class cultural offerings they provide, but also because they are vital economic engines for the City. Unfortunately, some of the organizations that run these venues are attempting to use the pandemic as an excuse to lower wages and remove worker protections. These efforts to undermine unionized workers are particularly galling when they are carried out by wealthy non-profit organizations that enjoy City tax breaks and City funding.
Maya understands that performing artists have suffered tremendously during the pandemic and that this industry will be one of the last to reopen. When it does, she will insist that wealthy venues and artistic institutions hold artists and other workers harmless—publicly advocating for labor agreements that maintain pre-pandemic wages and protections (and she has already publicly expressed support for these principles). She will also work with performing arts organizations on programs to make these cultural institutions more affordable and subsidize the cost of attendance for certain performances.
Work to Diversify the Performing Arts Industry
By and large, the performing arts and entertainment industries have a poor track record when it comes to diversifying their work forces—particularly at the highest levels. Maya is committed to pushing the industry to change. She will support the considerable efforts underway by performing arts unions to bring more diversity to the industry. Working with organized labor, cultural institutions, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, as well as outside partners, Maya will launch a major initiative to encourage a more diverse workforce. Specifically, this includes supporting existing pipeline/apprenticeship programs that provide a pathway into the industry for members of historically underrepresented groups, championing existing campaigns run by organized labor to push the industry to hire a more diverse workforce, providing paid internship programs that introduce students to opportunities in the industry, creating more opportunities in the Summer Youth Employment Program that introduce young people to arts jobs, investing in grant programs to support efforts to diversify boards, and supporting other innovative approaches to diversifying the industry. And while programs like the City’s recent effort to assess the diversity of cultural institutions are a good start, she will enhance the program with meaningful and measurable goals for the performing arts.
Make Capital Investments in Parks for the People, Enhanced Open Culture and Open Streets Programs
Accelerate Large-Scale ($1 billion) Capital Spending
As part of her New Deal New York plan, Maya committed to $1 billion in capital spending to support the arts and culture. This program will help put the City’s artists, performers and cultural workers back to work by providing performance and studio spaces, and through other capital expenditures that support arts and culture in the City.
Maya understands that New York’s iconic performing arts venues are an extremely important part of the City’s economy, and often support good union jobs. These institutions will be eligible to benefit from these capital expenditures, as will informal cultural institutions like NYCHA resident associations, local community based organizations, and arts collectives.
Importantly, Maya will prioritize projects in areas that were hardest hit by the pandemic and that serve historically underrepresented communities, and those lacking in cultural resources. She will insist that organizations that benefit from this spending treat their artists and workers fairly. To accelerate spending, and the accompanying economic stimulus, Maya will consider projects already in the pipeline, as well as new proposals. And Maya will be a champion of capital spending reforms that will allow these projects to be completed in a timely manner and on-budget.
Enhance Open Culture & Open Street Programs
The City’s Open Culture program provides arts and cultural organizations with the opportunity to stage permitted performances on City streets. But while a good concept, the program still lacks performer wage and safety standards. Maya is calling on the City to immediately establish reasonable worker protections in partnership with the relevant unions. And to establish reasonable guidelines for wages at these events.
Maya is also calling on the City to begin to crowd-source programming—working with local communities to develop and present cultural programming that they want to see.
Create Parks For the People
Invest in a major expansion of our Parks for the People, which will boost tourism while simultaneously expanding the public spaces available for cultural life and recreation, in a way that emphasizes community-first park use from the start and centers racial equity and environmental justice.
Bring land currently in private hands into the public domain:
Ensure that equity is at the core of all relief from these programs
Maya is committed to building a recovery that centers those communities who have been hardest hit by the pandemic and have been historically underserved. Communities of color, folks with disabilities, immigrant communities, and many more have been disproportionately impacted by COVID, and this is because of systemic inequality that has left these communities marginalized and underrepresented in many industries including arts and culture. In order for this recovery to help these communities and foster equity in the creative economy, all relief must apply an equity lens to ensure resources and support are going to the communities that need it most. Maya will commit to centering principles of equity and will ensure that New York City recovers for all people.
Maya’s plan to revitalize tourism, arts, and cultural institutions is the twenty-fifth installment of “50 ideas for NYC”, which will continue to highlight the many ideas Maya has proposed throughout this campaign to make New York a better city for everyone.
Maya has been endorsed by 1199SEIU, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Higher Heights for America, EMILY’s list, AmplifyHer, State Senator Michael Gianaris, Former Assembly Member and Former DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Assembly Member Khaleel Anderson, Assembly Member Jeff Aubry, Assembly Member Latoya Joyner, Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, Mark Green, Gloria Steinem, Robbie Kaplan, Council Members Helen Rosenthal and Steve Levin, and former City Council Member Jimmy Vacca. She has also received the endorsement of New York Progressive Action Network (NYPAN), the 504 Democratic Club, and Democracy For America. She has also endorsements from the Working Families Party and received ranked-choice endorsements from Zephyr Teachout, The Jewish Vote and Progressive Women of New York.
Since entering the race, Wiley has introduced several innovative policy proposals, including her New Deal New York, a piece of her economic vision that will create 100,000 jobs; a plan to save small business; a Universal Community Care plan to provide $5,000 grants for the 100,000 most in-need New York City; her Community First Climate Plan; an education plan that hires 1,000 teachers; a policy to prevent maternal mortality; a proposal to combat gun violence; and a plan to fight evictions.