July 30, 2019

New York Knows Its Arts Organizations Have a Diversity Problem. Now What?

By Julia Jacobs

In a city that prides itself on both the diversity of its population and its globally recognized cultural institutions, there is a lopsided reality: While about two-thirds of New Yorkers are people of color, two-thirds of the people who run its cultural institutions are white.

This disparity is outlined in the results of a new study, commissioned by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio and will be released Monday, that relies on a survey of institutions that receive city funding, including museums, theaters, zoos and botanical gardens.

The study, conducted from August to October of 2018, looked at behemoths like Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as smaller organizations like the Staten Island Historical Society. It found that among the arts workers surveyed, some groups historically discriminated against — including women (65 percent) and disabled people (8 percent) — were actually overrepresented. Gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer individuals constituted 15 percent of the work force.