The City of New York announced on Monday that $2.8 million it had received as a result of allowing the Metropolitan Museum of Art to change its admissions policy would be allocated to more than 175 other cultural organizations.
Among the institutions that will benefit are El Museo del Barrio, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Bronx Museum of the Arts.
“This agreement with the Met has paid dividends for NYC’s cultural community,” said the city’s cultural affairs commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl, adding that the arrangement was “stabilizing one of our city’s major institutions with increased admissions revenue, while providing a much-needed boost to organizations that anchor communities across the city.”
In 2018 the Met was allowed to change its pay-what-you-wish policy of 48 years to require that visitors from outside New York State pay $25. The change came at the behest of museum officials who were concerned about revenue.
Over the previous 13 years, museum officials said, the Met had seen a steep decline in the proportion of visitors who paid the full suggested amount of $25, from 63 percent to 17 percent, even as visits to the museum rose.
Met admission fees provided 14 percent of its $305 million operating budget, museum officials said last year.
The policy change was approved by the city, which owns the museum’s building. In return the museum agreed to turn over to the city 30 percent of its increased admission revenue, with a ceiling of $3 million and allowing adjustments for variations in attendance.
Museum officials said that the $2.8 million payment reflects $800,000 of increased revenue from the 2018 fiscal year, plus an estimate of $2 million for what they expect will be generated for the 2019 fiscal year.
The museum took in $48.2 million in admissions in the 2018 fiscal year, up from $42.8 million in the 2017 fiscal year, the officials said, adding that the increase was the result of four months of the new policy and of growing attendance.
Eventually the city and the museum will determine a fixed amount to deduct each year from an operating subsidy that the Department of Cultural Affairs provides to the museum to, among other things, offset costs for security and building staff. For the 2019 fiscal year, that operating subsidy is $11.9 million.
The Department of Cultural Affairs said that $1.4 million of the admissions money from the Met was earmarked for over 160 cultural development fund recipients that are in or serving what the city has identified as “high-need neighborhoods.” Those include Harlem Stage in Manhattan; Louis Armstrong House Museum in Queens; and St. George Theater in Staten Island.
The other half of the Met revenue will go to institutions in city-owned property that are in what the Department of Cultural Affairs has said are “underserved communities.”
Those funding increases, ranging from $25,000 to $175,000, will go to 16 organizations, including El Museo, the Studio Museum, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, and children’s museums in Brooklyn and Staten Island.