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Laurie Cumbo, Criticized as Anti-Immigrant, Will Be NYC’s Subsequent Cultural Affairs Commissioner

Laurie Cumbo, Criticized as Anti-Immigrant, Will Be NYC’s Subsequent Cultural Affairs Commissioner

Laurie Cumbo, Criticized as Anti-Immigrant, Will Be NYC's Next Cultural Affairs Commissioner

Laurie Cumbo, the previous majority chief of the New York Metropolis Council who has been criticized for what some view as an anti-immigrant stance, would be the subsequent commissioner of the Division of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), the company introduced in the present day, March 18. Cumbo will succeed Gonzalo Casals, who stepped down on the finish of Invoice de Blasio’s mayoral time period in 2021 and joined the Mellon Basis as a senior analysis and coverage fellow.

Final December, Cumbo voiced opposition to laws that enables almost a million noncitizens residing in New York to vote in municipal elections, arguing that it could “shift the ability dynamics” within the metropolis to the drawback of its Black residents.

“We would not have the numbers or the knowledge to understand how that’s going to influence African-American communities who’ve been probably the most weak in our existence in our metropolis,” Cumbo advised Politico.

The remark drew ire from supporters of the laws and immigration advocates together with Luis Miranda, a political strategist and father of award-winning composer and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. “I’m sorry however Ms. Cumbo’s current anti-immigrant statements make it very troublesome for me to help her appointment,” Luis Miranda wrote in an e-mail to members of Mayor Eric Adams’s transition committee in January, when there was first speak of Cumbo being named commissioner.

“Her appointment is one other deeply troubling signal that @NYCMayor is selecting illiberal political loyalists as an alternative of listening to our communities,” stated Natalia Aristizabal, the deputy director of the immigration advocacy group Make the Street New York, in a tweet shared by the group.

Cumbo is a longtime and fervent supporter of Adams, who has defended her potential nomination. “Laurie’s a celebrity, and I like Laurie,” he advised Politico in January. 

Born and raised in Brooklyn, Cumbo earned an undergraduate diploma in Artwork Historical past from Spelman School and an MA in Visible Arts Administration from New York College. A member of town council from 2014 to 2021 representing its thirty fifth district ⁠— which covers a number of Brooklyn neighborhoods together with Bedford-Stuyvesant and Clinton Hill ⁠— Cumbo additionally based the Museum of Modern African Diasporan Arts in Fort Greene in 1999.

In 2017, Cumbo efficiently sponsored a legislative bundle that elevated funding for the % for Artwork program, a public artwork initiative administered by the DCLA. On the time, it was the most important bundle of payments within the historical past of the company. She additionally supported and handed laws to create the first-ever citywide Minority and Ladies-Owned Companies Process Power. 

In a press launch shared by DCLA in the present day, a number of leaders of cultural establishments throughout town, together with the Laundromat Challenge and the Brooklyn Arts Council, praised the previous councilwoman and welcomed the appointment.

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“Laurie Cumbo has been a tireless advocate for arts and tradition organizations and, extra notably, organizations led by folks of shade,” stated Melody Capote, government director of the Caribbean Cultural Middle African Diaspora Institute.

However critics of Cumbo cite her report of culturally insensitive and polarizing statements that seem to pit ethnic teams in opposition to each other. In 2013, she apologized for writing in a Fb put up that “the accomplishments of the Jewish neighborhood triggers emotions of resentment” amongst her constituents. The remark was made within the wake of a sequence of assaults on Jewish residents of Crown Heights and was interpreted by many as anti-Semitic. In 2015, Cumbo additionally apologized for expressing considerations over “blocs” of Asian People transferring into public housing in her district throughout a council listening to.

On the top of Black Lives Matter protests in the summertime of 2020, Cumbo, who’s Black, in contrast calls to defund the police to “colonization” and stated the motion was led primarily by White progressives.

The DCLA is the largest cultural funding company in america, offering tons of of thousands and thousands of {dollars} to greater than 1,000 arts and tradition nonprofits throughout all 5 boroughs of New York Metropolis.

“I thank Mayor Eric Adams for appointing me to this place. Collectively, we’ll middle the humanities in New York’s financial restoration and bolster the tutorial and cultural experiences of each New York Metropolis pupil from Pre-Ok to CUNY,” Cumbo stated within the DCLA’s assertion.

Echoing Adams’s tough-on-crime rhetoric, she added: “I additionally imagine we may also help deal with public questions of safety in New York Metropolis — taking a gun out of the fingers of a teen and changing it with an instrument, paintbrush, digital camera, or script will redirect the expertise and passions of our youth in direction of constructing a greater and extra vibrant New York Metropolis.” 

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