NYC Looks Beyond Wall Street, Funds Design

By Joshua Philipp, The Epoch Times
May 6, 2013 Updated: May 7, 2013

NEW YORK—The design industry has been an untapped spring of talent overlooked by New York City as a viable economic force—until now.

Mayoral candidate, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was joined in the heart of Times Square by NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, and members of the city’s arts community on Tuesday to announce NYCxDESIGN. 

Pronounced “NYC by design,” the first 12-day expo of art will include more than 200 events across all five boroughs to showcase and promote local design. Events will begin Friday, May 10. Snippets of video from a communal design project, “Multifesto,” are already appearing on TaxiTV and on Times Square’s Nasdaq and Reuters electronic screens. 

The grass-roots expo was sparked by a 2011 report by Center for an Urban Future that shined a spotlight on New York’s design sector and its economic potential.

“It showed that at that point, New York City already had far more designers than any other United States city,” Quinn said.

“But it also showed that we really weren’t doing enough as a city to harness the potential of our great designers, at least 40,000, to help the economy and to help create jobs and economic development for other New Yorkers and for our neighborhoods,” she said.

The local events will highlight 16 sectors of design—including art, graphic design, crafts, and theater. Supporters hope to bring the industries the same attention that New York Fashion Week does for the garment district.

Jonathan Bowles, executive vice director of Center for an Urban Future, the group that wrote the 2011 report, said they began the study when Lehman Brothers collapsed.

“We wanted to get beyond Wall Street,” Bowles said.

What they found was that New York City has nearly twice the number of designers and architects as the next leading American city, with the next highest being in Los Angeles, which has 23,000.

“This is a competitive edge we have in New York,” Bowles said. “What wasn’t happening though, was we really weren’t harnessing this sector.”

“Design is one of those huge, huge assets for New York City’s economy,” he said, adding that until recently, it has “almost been hiding in plain sight.”

The expo was first announced by Quinn during her 2012 State of the City address. Events will range from free design classes for kids to talks at universities and museums.

Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate Levin said, “The scope is huge, but the underlying principles are how do you make something efficient, appealing, entertaining, and better.”