quote: "35th District Councilmember Laurie Cumbo has contributed $1.4 million of her $5.8 million in capital funding towards MoCADA, according to Capital New York.
The museum, currently residing on the ground floor of 80 Hanson Place (on the corner of South Portland Avenue), is undergoing a $9 million expansion–which will end up being largely facilitated by Cumbo’s funds and a matching contribution from NYC’s executive budget.
Capital notes Cumbo’s history with MoCADA–she founded the museum in 1999 and was its executive director up until winning the district seat last year–but says it is not illegal, technically improper, or unheard of for City Council representatives to give money to organizations which with they have prior ties.
For her part, Councilmember Cumbo told the publication, “This is an African diaspora art institution that is doing valuable vital work, that’s serving tens of thousands of people. It’s the only African diaspora institution of its kind in the district that is serving a vast majority of people of color, and I don’t think it should close because I’m a council member.”
“We’ve been lucky to have the support of so many fantastic foundations over the years, and we are very grateful for their ongoing commitment to cultural arts,” says MoCADA on its website. “Our funders are model philanthropists who continue to stand by our growth and innovation. But it is not enough to rely on foundations and government grants to stay afloat. We are in danger because we are a small, Black organization and wealth inequality continues to be a very real challenge in the community we serve. We operate without an endowment or major individual donors, making us vulnerable to funding cuts. If a funder decides they no longer want to support the arts (as often occurs), we have to cut free programming, or even staff. That’s why we’re asking you to take action now.”
Without attaching any value judgements to the organization’s work, however, one wonders if the only options are to close, or to expand into the new five floor facility mentioned by Cumbo in the article. Personally tied to the institution or not, nearly 25% of District 35′s capital funds are going to one place.
Does anyone know if the prior council member funded MOCADA with a share of their member items?
...how do I get myself a City Council seat?