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Supporting NYC’s Immigrant Arts Ecosystem in a Time of Crisis

Event - December 2020

Supporting NYC’s Immigrant Arts Ecosystem in a Time of Crisis

On December 11th, CUF held a forum to explore the growing role of immigrant artists in New York's cultural life, the impact of the COVID crisis on the immigrant arts ecosystem, and the longer-term challenges facing immigrant artists and immigrant-focused arts organizations across all five boroughs.

Tags: immigrants

“Supporting NYC's Immigrant Arts Ecosystem in a Time of Crisis
A Center for an Urban Future Virtual Policy Symposium

Replay of the event 


Immigrants have become increasingly pivotal to the success of the arts in New York. Though their contributions are too often overlooked, immigrants make up a growing share of the city’s artists and play a lead role in sharpening New York’s creative edge, preserving cultural heritage, and anchoring the city's position as a global leader in contemporary culture. But now the livelihoods of countless immigrant artists—and the survival of the cultural organizations that champion their work—are facing major threats from the COVID pandemic.

This forum explored the growing role of immigrant artists in New York's cultural life, the impact of the COVID crisis on the immigrant arts ecosystem, and the longer-term challenges facing immigrant artists and immigrant-focused arts organizations across all five boroughs. It examined what New York City and State can do both now and in the future to help immigrant artists and arts organizations survive the current crisis, overcome other long-standing challenges, and weave new strength into the cultural fabric of New York City.

Speakers included:

  • Commissioner Gonzalo Casals, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
  • Council Member Carlina Rivera, New York City Council
  • State Senator José M. Serrano, Chair of Majority Conference & Committee on Cultural Affairs, New York State Senate
  • Karesia Batan, Founder, Queensboro Dance Festival
  • Sandie Luna, Executive Director, ID Studio Theater 
  • Tijay Mohammed, Artist
  • Peter Rushefsky, Executive Director, Center for Traditional Music and Dance 
  • Hussein Smko, Artist 
  • Sally Tallant, President & Executive Director, Queens Museum
  • Rick Luftglass, Executive Director, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund
  • Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Program Director, Culpeper Arts & Culture Program, Rockefeller Brothers Fund
  • Salem Tsegaye, Program Officer, Arts & Culture, New York Community Trust

A video of the full discussion is available here.

This symposium is made possible through generous support from New York Community Trust, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. We are also grateful for general support from The Clark Foundation and the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation, and ongoing support from a number of other philanthropic funders.