NYC Mayoral Candidates Talk to New York Literary Action Coalition
Adams, Donovan, Morales, Stringer, and Wiley all agree that writers and the organizations that support them are vital to the city’s recovery
With just two months to go until the primary, contenders for New York City mayor have proclaimed their commitment to financially supporting writers and the literary arts if elected. In a series of virtual roundtable conversations with the New York Literary Action Coalition—a consortium of the city’s leading organizations representing and supporting writers—Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer, and Maya Wiley all expressed clear, unequivocal support for helping the city’s literary community recover as the city emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There needs to be a clear allocation [of funds] to the literary and the arts community,” said Eric Adams, currently serving as Brooklyn borough president. “One of the number one things I’m going to do as mayor is clearly put in place a strong level of stability for the literary community, so in return, that community will help us navigate emotional trauma that came from COVID-19.”
“I have learned, over the years, the power of artists, the necessity of artists to be involved in moments like this to help us reimagine a world that we’ve never seen before,” said former Obama housing secretary Shaun Donovan. “If we’re not building a vibrant, artistic life, literary life, we will not be the world’s leading city once again.”
“The need for us to be able to tell our stories is, as far as I’m concerned, a critical part of the healing process and the reckoning process,” said nonprofit leader Dianne Morales. “I think we should be providing all sorts of grants and targeted programs specifically to support the arts in this process of documenting what’s happening in our communities.”
Current New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said he would “[e]xplicitly designate the literary arts community in all policy-making related to moving the city’s arts and culture industries forward from the pandemic.”
“We want to prioritize a couple of different parallel tracks as we think about re-imagining New York City,” said lawyer and activist Maya Wiley. “One obviously is recovering, but recovering in a way that’s investing in communities and in communities being whole, which is where I think arts and culture absolutely fits in to the sense of the whole community.”
Carlos Menchaca (withdrawn)
“What often gets left behind in discussions about writers in New York City is the economic impact the pandemic has had on writers. Much of the city’s cultural funding goes to a small group of major institutions. It’s a very dire situation for writers and smaller literary organizations,” said New York City Council member Carlos Menchaca.
**PEN America, based on polling of the top contenders in the race, also reached out to candidates Andrew Yang and Ray McGuire. Yang never responded to our inquiries, and McGuire canceled but never rescheduled. The Literary Action Coalition is prepared to meet with them, time and scheduling permitting.**