During the years 2015 and 2017 under the de Blasio administration, New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs [DCA], undertook a two-year study, resulting in the CreateNYC initiative. CreateNYC is “intended to serve as a roadmap to a more sustainable, inclusive, and equitable cultural sector that all residents have a stake in.” Yet, none of the facts of a controlling mid-19th century public-private partnership regarding New Yorkers’ right to free access and instruction to at least 17 boroughs-wide, parkland institutions, was presented, considered or included in CreateNYC’s goals and objectives.
Free Admission’s [FA’s] Plan of Action intends to correct this omission.
FA’s Initial Plan of Action
Typically, the laws governing the public-private partnership, park education campus [PPP/PEC] institutions, were enacted through the New York State legislature. State law trumps local law. However, the oversight was assumed by the City; specifically, the DCA and the Department of Parks & Recreation [DPR] [see PEC INSTITUTIONS, PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP and LAWS.]
When conjuring up its initial Plan of Action, therefore, FA sought to rely on the provisions of Chapter 67. Sections 2505 through 2507 of the New York City Charter, providing for DCA’s responsibilities. When FA sought information from DCA under the Freedom of Information [FOIL] law, DCA denied FA’s request stating that it “does not generally maintain records related to State funding or benefits,” even as state laws generally controlled. Too, DPR has yet to fully comply to FA’s FOIL requests. [see NOTE ONE below]
FA then looked to solicit action from the City Council. The Council had an effort spelled out in unenacted Bill Int. 1538-2019. However, 1538-2016 limited its scope to seniors and persons with disabilities.
As it was 150 years ago, the time was ripe to go to the source: the New York State legislature.
FA’s Current Plan of Action with the New York State Legislature
FA worked with State Assemblyman Charles D. Fall and State Senator Cordell Cleare to introduce study bill A03059/S5265 requesting that the DCA and DPR, among others, participate in a study of controlling laws and contracts with regard to each museum’s initial or amended incorporating purpose and each museum’s obligation to provide free admission and/or instruction to New Yorkers in exchange for the financial support, with the purpose to elicit opinions and recommendations to ensure that each museum’s policies and practices are in compliance. Bill A03059/S5265 are first-of-their-kind legislation to obtain, analyze and make recommendations regarding the oversight of the park institutions and New Yorkers’ free rights to them.
Next steps will flow from the study’s recommendations.
NOTE ONE: Chapter 1. Section 12.a-e of the New York City Charter [Mayor’s Management Report] requires the Mayor to receive reports from, consider the management by, and through the City Council, to hold public hearings regarding, the operations of city agencies. Chapter 67. Section 2506 of the New Yor City Charter [Cultural Plan], especially subparagraph 3a, requires DCA to establish a citizens’ advisory committee regarding the cultural plan and Section 2507 [Data on Cultural Institutions Group] sets out requirements pertaining to DCA and public and non-public school students. The Council has yet to pass Bill Int. 1538-2019 which in effect expands the population considered under Section 2507 to include seniors and persons with disabilities. Of course, FA proposes that this data collection and action should be broadened to include all New Yorkers.
Chapter 21. Section 533 of the New York City Charter sets out DPR’s requirements, especially at subsection b.4. whereby DPR is mandated “to undertake, subject to the approval of the mayor, and to enter into arrangements with other agencies of the city, state or federal government”, making clear that DPR has an obligation to consider New York State laws when entering agreements with the PPP/PEC institutions and/or any enterprise authorized to manage and operate facilities under DPR’s control [see PUBLIC-PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP and PEC INSTITUTIONS.]