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Adams names Laurie Cumbo as Cultural Affairs Commissioner

March 18, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Friday announced the appointment of former Brooklyn Councilmember and arts administrator Laurie Cumbo as commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). 

In that role, she will direct cultural policy for the city and oversee city funding for hundreds of nonprofit arts and cultural organizations across the five boroughs that deliver quality arts programming for New Yorkers. Additionally, Commissioner Cumbo will advise on strategies for equitably supporting and strengthening the city’s diverse cultural community.

“As we work to revitalize our city, the Department of Cultural Affairs will play a vital role in our economic recovery — expanding access to the arts for outer-borough children and providing increased support for local artists,” said Mayor Adams. “Laurie Cumbo brings a breadth of experience in the arts, community advocacy, and city government to her role as commissioner.”


Cumbo grew up in East Flatbush, went to Brooklyn Tech and Spelman College, and founded the Museum of Contemporary African Disapora Arts (MoCADA), first in Bed-Stuy and then in Fort Greene. She was elected to the City Council in 2013, succeeding Letitia James, and served two terms, eventually rising to the position of majority leader. 


In the City Council, according to the Mayor’s Office, she helped “to secure permanent cultural homes for the Noel Pointer Foundation, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Center, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, African Voices Magazine, Creative Outlet Dance Company, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), 651 Arts, the Brooklyn Music School, The Brooklyn Pride Center and Digital Girl.”


“Every single moment in my life — from my first internship at the age of fifteen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and founding Brooklyn’s first Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, to teaching at Pratt Institute and serving on the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations as a New York City councilmember — has led me to this incredible opportunity to further serve the city as the Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs,” said Cumbo. “I thank Mayor Eric Adams for appointing me to this position. Together, we will center the arts in New York’s economic recovery and bolster the educational and cultural experiences of every New York City student from Pre-K to CUNY.”

DCLA represents and serves nonprofit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historical and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the city’s five boroughs. The agency provides hundreds of millions of dollars in expense and capital funding to more than 1,000 cultural nonprofits each year. 

“Laurie Cumbo has been a tireless advocate for arts and culture organizations and, more particularly, organizations led by people of color. Her reach extended to every borough, and her advocacy helped to maintain New York City’s role as a leader in arts and culture,” said Melody Capote, executive director, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diasporan Institute. 

“Congratulations to Laurie Cumbo,” said Devorah Halberstam, co-founder, Jewish Children’s Museum. “She is a gift to the cultural community, understanding that the pulse of our communities are our cultures. It is what unifies us, all through our wonderful diversity. I look forward with great anticipation to her creativity and brilliance as she brings the city into a new and exciting space.”

Cumbo succeeds former Commissioner Gonzalo Casals, who was appointed during the de Blasio administration.

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