The 1970's were a time of fiscal crisis in New York City's public schools. Among the first items to be lopped from the education budgets were classes in the fine arts (Mandell, 2005). While the money would later return, the attitude at the top toward the arts did not change much - Mayor Giuliani even established a "decency commission" to determine what art would and would not be acceptable for public support, and even for public display (Steinhauer, 2005).
Mayor Bloomberg, in stark contrast, has demonstrated a serious commitment to the arts in New York City. He has established Percent for Art, a policy that requires the consultation of the arts commission for any significant public-works project. Additionally, he has borrowed sculptures and paintings from galleries and museums across the city and placed them in public areas. He has donated more than $40 million to the Carnegie Corporation, for distribution to 162 cultural organizations in New York City (Steinhauer, 2005). ...
Sharon Dunn, the new head of Arts Education for New York City schools, has said that "One of the areas identified as most in need of development is the need to acquaint school administrators with the benefits and elements of arts education." (Mandell, 2005). Under Mayor Bloomberg's leadership, the Department of Education secured a $1 million grant from the Bank of America, aimed at educating the leaders of New York City schools about the importance of culture in learning. Over 400 principals and local superintendents benefited from the Cultural Pass Program, which gave them free admission to 25 cultural institutions in New York City, as well as discounted admission to performances and concerts. According to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, this program will "better acquaint principals with the many cultural and arts institutions available to their teacher and students across the City" and promote the idea of cultural organizations as "instructional resources" (NYC Department, 2004).
Other objections to Mayor Bloomberg's education policy have included the following: an instruction plan that does not cover enough of the arts; insufficient and inequitable distribution of resources, and insufficient facilities and supplies; a shortage of qualified art instructors; and a "variation" in the quality of partnerships between schools and cultural organizations (NYC Council Report, 2003). A lot of these concerns boil down to one issue: money. While the current education budget includes $70 million for Project Arts, and while Mayor Bloomberg is committed to "focus on arts education to ensure that students learn about the arts and fully experience" the cultural life of New York City (Bloomberg, 2005), the City has a mammoth lawsuit to