NEW YORK, NY (October 24, 2008) – Robin Bronk, Executive Director of The Creative Coalition, will testify this morning before The New York City Council on the beneficial impact that the arts and entertainment industry has on the economy of New York City.
Good morning members of the City Council. My name is Robin Bronk, and I am the Executive Director of The Creative Coalition.
The Creative Coalition is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization of the entertainment industry. Based here inNew York City, the organization was founded in 1989 by prominent figures in the creative community to educate and mobilize leaders in the arts community on issues of public importance. Our members are actors, actresses, writers, producers, directors, and others involved in America’s creative arts. I thank you for having me here today to address this issue that is so important to so many members of my organization.
The Creative Coalition strongly supports the creation of desperately-needed middle income housing in New York City. Let me tell you why we can’t have a healthy arts industry without also having housing for the middle class. When many people think of the entertainment industry, they envision the wealthy starlets of Page Six or US Weekly. The truth of the entertainment industry is much more interesting than that, though perhaps somewhat less glamorous.
The backbone of the entertainment business is the men and women who work on camera and off-screen, on stage and backstage, who are essential though rarely heralded. These are working class men and women who are incredibly dedicated to their crafts. It takes hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of people to stage a play, create a television program, or shoot a film. Without those hard-working men and women, you can have the best script and the biggest star, but you still won’t have a play, a television show or a movie. It just won’t work.
In recent years, New York City has been incredibly fortunate to having a growing number of these hard-working men and women employed in the entertainment industry. Location shooting days in New York City have almost doubled in the last 15 years. In recent years, New York City has hosted the highest number of film, television, commercial and music video shoots in its history.
I can see the impact at The Creative Coalition. After years of watching my membership move westward, I’m seeing more and more of my members move back to New York City.
This is a tremendous boon to the City’s economy and to our cultural life. Studies indicate that television, film and commercial production contribute more than 5 billion dollars in direct spending and account for more than 70,000 jobs in New York City. These numbers don’t include the multipliers often used to measure true economic impact. Economists typically estimate that each dollar spent on film production typically leads to at least two more dollars of economic activity in ancillary goods and services.
Here’s the problem: to have an entertainment industry, you have to have a place for people who work in that industry to live. These talented individuals aren’t going to work here if they can’t live here. For the arts and entertainment industries to continue to grow here, we need to have some housing that’s affordable for those who design the costumes, not just for the stars who wear the costumes.
Hunters Point South presents the City with a unique opportunity to create much-needed middle-class housing in a location that is ideal for the working men and women involved in New York’s arts and entertainment industry. The development is convenient both to the studios in Queens and to the Theater District. Most importantly, the apartment homes and Hunters Point South would provide an affordable housing option to those working men and women who are essential to the continued growth and prosperity of our City. If we can’t keep them here, I don’t know how we’ll keep their jobs here.
Members of the Council, I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak with you this morning and urge you to move aggressively to make middle income housing at Hunters Point South a reality.