Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo was born and raised in the arts, and now she is bringing back money to her roots in the 35th District.
At a press conference at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens on Monday, Cumbo announced that her central Brooklyn district will see $22 million for capital locations coming in this fiscal year.
Many big and small cultural institutions throughout the district will receive the fruits of that funding, and Cumbo could not have been more excited to announce the allocations for the arts.
“For me, in so many ways, the cultural world gave birth to me and really gave me all of the encouragement in my life to be here today,” Cumbo said. “And more so than anything in the entire world, what I wanted to do was to be that voice for the art and cultural community and to make sure that we had the lion’s share of the budget.”
Among those receiving funds are the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), which will receive $5 million; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, which will receive $4.4 million; the Brooklyn Navy Yard will get $1.5 million; Prospect Park Alliance is receiving $400,000; 651 Arts, which is getting $2.1 million; and MoCADA, which will receive $2.8 million.
Since her youth, Cumbo has worked at Prospect Park Alliance, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and most recently served as the director at MoCADA. Earlier this year, Cumbo took some heat for allocating a significant amount of her discretionary funding to MoCADA, which she also founded.
The focus of Monday’s press conference, however, was entirely on the rewards of bringing resources back to the arts. Cumbo was joined by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who ran for office on a platform that emphasized the arts, in rejoicing the announcement.
“To be honest, New York City has ignored Brooklyn,” Adams said. “They thought that the artistic and cultural institutions lie along Fifth Avenue, and when you look at the dollars, a disproportionate amount of those dollars stay only at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. Well hell no, not while I’m borough president.”
A crowd of cultural leaders in the borough surrounded Cumbo, thanking her for her contributions and efforts towards helping the arts community.
“If you bring children into contact with cultural institutions, with environmental institutions, with history, they turn out to be leaders,” said Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum. “They turn out to have enormous appreciation for the world in which they exist. They thrive as individuals.”
Cumbo agreed, emphasizing the need for the arts to thrive throughout the borough, and not just within her own district.
“We need to spread the wealth and make sure that people all over this borough benefit from what is our great city and all of the cultural expressions that we have to offer,” she said.