2013 has been the first year in which the League of Independent Theater’s Political Research and Outreach Committee has made endorsements in New York City races. The basis of giving the endorsements has been our interactions with the candidates and their engagement with the League’s Performing Arts Platform. The platform represents what we consider the most pressing issues facing independent theater artists in the city.
The Political Outreach and Research Committee overwhelmingly endorses Jack Hidary, Independent (Jobs and Education Party), for Mayor.
Here is Mr. Hidary’s statement in response to the Performing Arts Platform:
"I strongly support the League of Independent Theater and its Performing Arts Platform. Independent theater is critical to the vibrancy and economy of New York City. I look forward to working with the League and all its members to grow independent theater in our city and to promote independent theater to the millions who visit our city. NY is the arts and creative capital of the world and we will invest deeply in the arts in the Hidary administration."
For the record, this is the clearest and most explicit statement of support we have received from any candidate we have considered endorsing in any of our races. He is the only candidate currently running for Mayor who has engaged with the League in any meaningful way.
Jack Hidary is also the only candidate currently running for Mayor who has gone on the record to support One Percent for Culture. You can see him speak clearly about this at the One Percent for Culture Forum from this July. The consensus from the LIT PRO Committee was that he won the night. He has served as a trustee on the Citizen’s Budget Commission, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic organization whose mission is to achieve constructive change in the finances and services of New York City and New York State government. He sees the need to increase the City’s budget to make anything of note happen and to get to One Percent through a private/public partnership.
You can also watch Jack Hidary at an ArtsEdTech meeting in August 2013. This will give you an in-depth look into his plans for the future of New York City and how the arts, tech and education will be part of it. He has great ideas of pairing companies with schools and to move from an 18th Century model of education to a 21st Century model. He is on the board of Google Labs and knows that creativity is important to technology and other sectors. He wants to turn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) into STEAM by adding the arts. More than just a clever turn of phrase, he has solid ideas on how to do this.
We are impressed with his story of growing up in Coney Island and becoming a success as a technology and financial entrepreneur. Our ears perked up when he told us he regularly attends the Copenhagen Conference on Climate Change and the conference of City Mayors. He is looking into the future. We like how he worked with David Yassky on the Taxi Law before there was one. In short, we owe the fact that the Ford Escape Hybrid (previously it was the Ford Crown Victoria) is the most used taxi and the subsequent positive impact to the environment to Mr. Hidary. He also has ideas on how to decrease our electricity load at our performance spaces.
He wants to co-market and brand independent theater to raise our profile and help get tourists to parts of the city outside Midtown. He wants to encourage NYC tourism from emerging markets around the world, which would have a strong impact on the city’s economy. He wants to get more middle-income housing in the pockets of the city that artists have made more vibrant but risk being priced out. He wants to open public lands to the arts. He wants to open more co-working space/incubators for the business sector, the food industry and the arts. He wants to add 30 community centers with performing space in areas that are culture deserts in the city. We are also pleased with his ideas for immigration reform and wanting to push for a New York City Dream Act.
Some of you will wonder why we are not endorsing the Democratic candidate Bill de Blasio. He has not met our criteria for endorsement. Our attempts to speak with him and get engagement on the Performing Arts Platform were neglected. In addition, he does not support One Percent for the Arts. You can see him say so at the Forum that happened in July. To be fair, he gives budgetary reasons in anticipation of the issues that may arise with the city’s labor contracts being open. While we like his commitment to more affordable housing and integrating more arts in public education, we feel his stances on the arts in general are vague. To put this bluntly, the central focus of the League’s membership is not doing work in after-school programs. We have not heard much else on his positions on the arts. Finally, an endorsement by LIT for Mr. de Blasio would not mean much. We would be in the back of a long line with him.
We are not backing the Republican candidate Joe Lhota.
There is, of course, the question of electability with Jack Hidary. We do not and cannot know, realistically, what his chances are. Regardless, the LIT PRO Committee feels it is best to align with him early and be a part of whatever his political future holds. A Hidary endorsement demonstrates our independence and elevates our profile. It also sends a message to other potential candidates that they must think seriously about the arts and independent theater in New York City. While some of our candidates will inevitably lose, we must put our focus on working for the enlightened, arts-friendly candidates first. Then we will educate those who won but have not engaged with us and find ways to work with them.
We encourage you to give us your thoughts. We hope to see more of you out and about for the League with our endorsed candidates as we work up to the election on November 5. We would love anyone who is interested to please join the League’s Political Research and Outreach Committee. Joining is easy. Simply write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Harcum, Managing Director
and John Clancy, Executive Director
We are the 99 seats (or less)!