The New York City Fiscal Crisis’ Effect on Art and Artists

Authors: Lauren Gerlowski*, Point Park University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: political economic geography, arts, artists, New York City, 1970, urban entrepreneurialism, managerialism, neoliberalism, urban geography, arts geography, creative geography
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: President's Boardroom, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Fiscal Crisis in New York City in the 1970s initiated an aggressive movement of neoliberal policies that soon were enacted across the nation. This paper investigates what happened to performance and visual arts and artists in New York City while the city complied to the wishes of corporate powers and made cuts to publicly funded initiatives. Through a combination of primary and historical research, it investigates the arts and artists’ relationship to the neoliberal rhetoric that was bourgeoning in the 1970s. The paper further understands the political and economic impact of the arts in the 1970s by examining space, place and race. It geographically displays uneven patterns of creative destruction where black artists were incarcerated for the exact same activity that white artists were publicly funded for. This paper shows how the beginnings of neoliberalism were not blanket orders, rather slow institutionalizations of policies, especially with regard to the arts and their relation to public and private capital.

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