By Amanda Hatfield
Alongside his musical career both as a solo artist and a member of Talking Heads, David Byrne has been promoting civic engagement too, whether through writing essays about democracy, inviting voting advocates HeadCount to set up booths at his American Utopia tour, participating in the Women’s March, and more. Most recently, he spoke at an NYC rally to support increased public funding for the arts on Tuesday (5/21) on the steps of City Hall, appearing with Council Member & Cultural Affairs Chair Jimmy Van Bramer, Brooklyn Children’s Museum CEO Stephanie Wilchfort, Council Members Robert E. Cornegy, Jr, Laurie Cumbo, and others.
NYC Patch reports that Byrne called for action from Mayor Bill de Blasio, saying, “culture helps your whole city, your whole community, even if you don’t partake in it.”
More from Patch:
De Blasio’s executive budget for the 2020 fiscal year inclues about $133 million in city funding for cultural programs and institutions, according to a City Council briefing paper. That’s more than $59 million less than the roughly $192.8 million included in last year’s adopted budget.
The cuts would hurt organizations that often struggle to stay afloat despite contributing to an industry that contributes to the city’s economy, advocates and Council members said.
Byrne argued that cultural institutions lift up communities across the city, saying that research has linked their presence to lower crime and obesity rates and higher test scores.
Perhaps what this movement really needs to get de Blasio’s attention is a ska band?
New York Post reports that Byrne also commented on de Blasio’s presidential bid:
“Oh jeez, oh jeez,” legendary singer David Byrne griped to The Post when asked about the mayor’s White House bid.
Byrne said he’s not sold on whether de Blasio has done a good job as mayor.
“You know we New Yorkers have to figure out how’s he done here. We’re kind of going like, ‘Could we get a test score for him before we kind of say, oh yeah you did great, you should now take it to a broader constituency?’ I want to see that first. I haven’t seen it,” he said.
See a few pictures from Tuesday’s rally below.
And speaking of Talking Heads, Nitehawk Park Slope is screening their iconic concert film Stop Making Sense, and hosting a Q&A with Talking Heads member Jerry Harrison and music journalist Anthony Bozza. Tickets are on sale.