No one goes into writing to get rich. But a number of New York City mayoral wannabes say if they win office, they’ll make things a little easier for the city’s legions of ink-stained wretches.
Eric Adams, Shaun Donovan, Dianne Morales, Scott Stringer and Maya Wiley promised to get extra funding and perks to writers, in a series of new interviews organized by PEN America.
Morales, former CEO of nonprofit Phipps Neighborhoods, promised “grants and targeted programs specifically to support the arts in this process of documenting what’s happening in our communities.”
She also touted her proposal to provide a guaranteed minimum income for New Yorkers as a boon to writers. That would let people “go out into the world and produce, either art or engage in civic life or be a worker that is getting what they need,” she said.
Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, said he’d tap federal stimulus funds.
“There needs to be a clear allocation to the literary and the arts community,” he said, though he didn’t cite a dollar figure.
Maya Wiley, a former top legal aide to Mayor de Blasio, highlighted her $10 billion “New Deal for New York” plan to create jobs through construction projects.
“We’ve made the arts and culture community an explicit part of what we will look at when we do capital construction, including spaces,” she said.
Donovan said his “15-minute neighborhoods” plan to make good schools, transportation and other services available near all New Yorkers’ homes includes culture.
“Every New Yorker … will be able to find what they need for opportunity within 15 minutes of their front door,” he said. “It also means arts and culture.”
Donovan also touted his plan to create a city-backed health insurance option as a plus for scribes.
“We also need to be making sure that there’s a real safety net in health care and other benefits for artists and others,” he said.
Stringer — the city comptroller who came under allegations of sexual abuse and harassment on Wednesday — said he’d streamline the process for writers’ groups to get grants, among other steps.
PEN America, a nationally prominent nonprofit that advocates for writers’ causes, asked the candidates who their favorite New York City writers were.
Answers included Ralph Ellison (Donovan’s choice), N. K. Jemisin (Wiley’s) and Maurice Sendak (Stringer’s).
Adams said he was his own favorite writer.
“I just finished my first book, which is going to be one of many, called ‘Healthy at Last,’” he said. “Outside of Malcolm Gladwell and others, at this time I’m at the top of my list of favorite writers.”
Alejandro Heredia of PEN America said it and members of its “NYC Literary Action Coalition” were “heartened that all the mayoral contenders we spoke to firmly committed to ensuring the survival of writers and writers’ organizations.”
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