Stroock Hosts Emily Rafferty, Katherine Farley and Kate Levin at Forum on Culture and Economics

Mar 06, 2013, 15:10 ET from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan

NEW YORK, March 6, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- "Cultural Institutions as Economic Engines for New York City" was the theme of a forum hosted today by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and featuring Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Katherine Farley, Chair of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Kate D. Levin, Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. 

The three prominent women discussed a range of issues exploring the financial impact of cultural institutions on New York City.

Robert Abrams, former New York State Attorney General and Chair of Stroock's Government Relations Practice, and Stuart H. Coleman, Stroock's Co-Managing partner, moderated the panel.

"The visual and performing arts in New York City contribute significantly to the city's economy and are recognition of New York City's preeminent global cultural brand," said Abrams.  "Emily Rafferty, Katherine Farley and Kate Levin, outstanding leaders of our cultural community, offered provocative and thoughtful insights about the impact of culture across all aspects of life."

"Culture is New York's signature industry," said Commissioner Levin.  "New York City is the largest arts funder in the country, owns 33 cultural institutions, including botanical gardens, theaters and museums, and funds 900 groups per year."  Many of those groups are small, with budgets around $250,000.  "They are like small businesses in neighborhoods – everything thrives when culture thrives, and the quality of life and humanity are enhanced."

Levin cited Brooklyn as a stunning example of the long-term benefits of civic investments in cultural institutions, from the Brooklyn Museum to theaters and programs across the borough. The presence of these institutions has created thousands of jobs and businesses and helped put Brooklyn on the map as a cultural destination.  "Brooklyn is an extraordinary dynamo," said Levin.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art attracted 6.3 million people in 2012 – 40 percent of them international visitors – and its programs and financial impact are large.  Rafferty described the Met as "a place of renewal and reflection that inspires people to leave their daily lives."   As poignant examples, she noted that the museums were able to open the day after the devastations of 9/11 and the Sandy storm, and thousands of people waited outside to visit.

Lincoln Center's Farley described the institution as an engine of economic development that was designed to be a fortress 50 years ago, and today "has turned into a public campus that is the cultural heart of the city as well as the world's largest performing arts institution."  Five million people visit the institution each year, with an additional 30 million connected globally through digital broadcasts.  A recent $1.2 billion renovation created thousands of jobs; its community and education initiatives are expanding.  "Our goal is that every child in New York has a touch point with an artist or cultural institution every year.

"People are passionate about the arts, and they understand the place of the arts in New York," added Farley.

Metropolitan Museum of Art President Rafferty serves also as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  She is Chairwoman of NYC & Company, New York City's tourism and marketing agency, and is a board member of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.

Lincoln Center Chair Farley is a Senior Managing Director at the global real estate firm Tishman Speyer, where she is responsible for businesses in Brazil and China.

As Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Levin directs cultural policy for New York City, supporting and strengthening nonprofit organizations through public funding, technical assistance and advocacy across the five boroughs.  She previously taught at the City College of New York and served in the Koch administration.

Today's event was the 12th in a series hosted by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP during the last year. Previous participants included New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.; Congressman Jerrold Nadler; Patrick J. Foye, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Thomas F. Prendergast, President MTA New York City Transit; James Vacca, New York City Council – Transportation Chair; and Gene Russianoff, Attorney and Spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign; New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former New York City Comptroller and Democratic candidate for Mayor William Thompson; and Ambassador Ido Aharoni, the Consul General of Israel. The most recent events featured Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former New York Governor David Paterson discussing reduction of prisoner recidivism; and Merryl Tisch, Ester Fuchs and Kathryn Wylde discussing women and the glass ceiling in the economy.

Today's event was sponsored by Stroock's Government Relations group, which is comprised of former prosecutors, judges, and government agency officials.  The practice is led by Mr. Abrams, who also served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General, Executive Chair of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's Transition Committee and Honorary Co-Chair of Attorney General Schneiderman's Transition Committee.

SOURCE Stroock & Stroock & Lavan