New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has selected Tom Finkelpearl, the Queens Museum president and executive director, as the city’s next cultural affairs commissioner. De Blasio made the announcement at the museum, which recently underwent a significant renovation led by Grimshaw Architects.
“With his decades of experience in fortifying the city’s cultural institutions, Tom has developed a deep understanding of the powerful role art and culture play in moving our city forward, and the necessity of increasing access to our creative landmarks for all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said at the announcement. “With Tom at the helm of [the Department of Cultural Affairs], I’m confident that New York City will not only continue to thrive as a global cultural hub, but also make the arts more accessible to New Yorkers in every neighborhood.”
As commissioner, Finkelpearl will oversee a $156 million budget and become a key player in the future of the city’s world-famous arts institutions. In this capacity, he will also help decide the fate of currently stalled projects like the beleaguered World Trade Center Performing Arts Center.
Arts and cultural programming were a key focus for Mayor Bloomberg, and those in the arts community have been skeptical of his successor’s commitment to their field. It should be noted that this appointment comes more than three months after the mayor took office.