Says Bloomberg political allocations left office with the former billionaire mayor
By Stephen Witt
The Weeksville Heritage Center, which documents and preserves the history of the free, self-sufficient 19th century African-American community of Weeksville, is looking to get a little help from City Hall – namely to gain entrance onto the city’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG) list.
And all it takes is a swipe of Mayor de Blasio’s pen, according to Weeksville Board Chair Timothy Simons, who also sits on the board of the Brooklyn Historical Society and Bed-Stuy’s Restoration Plaza.
Simons explained that Weeksville, like other smaller cultural institutions around the borough, depended on the political purse strings of former Billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s philanthropic arm for the past several years. However, when Bloomberg left office, he took his proverbial money ball with him and the funds dried up for Weeksville and various other cultural institutions (like Texas) in the summer.
“During the Bloomberg Administration, he didn’t add any institutions to the (CIG) list,” said Simons, adding the CIG gets annual city funding through the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). “We would like to see the new mayor add us to the list much sooner than later.”
Calls to the mayor’s office were referred to DCA, who offered a “No comment”.
Meanwhile, Weeksville does have the strong support of newly elected City Councilman Robert Cornegy, who is just starting to navigate his way through the corridors of power. Borough President Eric Adams also said he will keep Weeksville in mind once the capital budget is set.
Weeksville did get sizable help from the city through DCA, former Borough President Marty Markowitz and various elected officials in securing $34 million in capital funds to build Weeksville’s new 23,000-square-foot Education and Cultural Arts Building, which opens this spring.
The Arts Building will enable Weeksville to significantly expand its education, programming and research capabilities and elevate its standing as one of the nation’s leading centers for African-American history and culture.
Simons also announced Weeksville will name the organization’s new executive director in the next few weeks. Shortly thereafter, the board will begin a search for a new development director, he said.
Simons said the priorities for Weeksville n the coming year are to both maintain and find new funding streams and to partner with other cultural organizations. This is the case as Weeksville is currently partnering with the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Irondale Theater on the four-year Brooklyn Abolitionists/In Pursuit of Freedom project.
“We want to make sure our programming is robust, exciting and constantly changing and evolving,” Simons said.