Fine Arts Discussion

The Fine Arts Federation of New York’s
First Annual Constituent Organization Round-Table Discussion
Report by Reyna Alorro, representing the APA NY Metro Chapter

On January 28th, 2009, the Fine Arts Federation of New York held its first annual constituent organization round-table discussion at the Center for Architecture.  From this meeting, the following issues were raised on which the APA NY Metro Chapter may wish to take action:

The Fine Arts Federation is a non-profit organization, consisting of twenty-two prominent organizations concerned with public art, architecture, planning, parks, and historic preservation. This includes the APA NY Metro Chapter.  The Federation’s board meets monthly to formulate positions and coordinate united action on current and emerging issues that affect the aesthetic interests of the community.  However, APA representation has been lacking at the Federation’s meetings.  According to the Federation’s By-Laws, there is a Standing Committee on City Development.  I am not sure how active this committee is, but from the January 28th meeting, the President of the Federation, Tomas Rossant, and several of the directors, informed me that they are eager to have an APA representative who provides the planning perspective to the community concerns raised at their meetings. 

Such concerns raised at the January 28th meeting include: 

  • Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to restructure the City Charter to remove community boards from the ULURP process. (http://www.nysun.com/new-york/possible-city-charter-overhaul-sparks-anxiety/81558/)
  • Possible closure of Governor’s Island due to lack of funds
  • Need for more public park space
  • Lack of a seat within the Landmarks Commission for both an architect and a planner. Currently there is just one seat available. Commissioners could be more motivated to encourage historic preservation if paid a stipend like planning commissioners.
  • Bloomberg’s support of the arts but not of preservation.
  • The City’s lack of design guidelines

The Federation supports public art, architecture, landscape design, preservation and urban planning in NYC, to keep all the arts vibrant and vital in the city’s public realm.  They seek collaboration amongst the member organization to publish white papers in support of public works that contribute to the beauty of the community and to the public welfare. 

It is my opinion that APA and the Fine Arts Federation do share some common interests (perhaps not all) and can be resources for each other to promote good planning and urban design in NYC.  Considering the APA NY Metro Chapter has an Urban Design Committee, it may make sense that the APA Representative to the Fine Arts Federation comes from this committee.  I propose that the Urban Design Committee partners with the Fine Arts Federation, on behalf of APA.  Tomas Rossant, President of the Fine Arts Federation, welcomes APA to serve as the voice of planners in NYC and encourages APA to attend the Federation’s monthly meetings held the first Wednesday of the month, at 4:30 pm in the ConEd Building.  For more information about the Fine Arts Federation, see below and attached By-Laws.  Tomas may be reached at:  TRossant@polshek.com.

About the Fine Arts Federation of New York

The Fine Arts Federation of New York, a non-profit organization established in 1895 to create and defend art and architecture city-wide, is an alliance of twenty-two prominent organizations concerned with public art, architecture, planning, parks, and historic preservation. 

Member Organizations

American Abstract Artists
AIA, Brooklyn Chapter
AIA, NY Chapter
APA, NY Metro Chapter
American Society of Interior Designers, NY Chapter
American Society of Landscape Architects
The Architectural League of New York
The Associates of the Art Commission
The Decorators Club
The Drawing Society
Historic Districts Council
Municipal Art Society
National Academy of Design
National Sculpture Society
National Society of Mural Painters
New York Artists Equity Association, Inc.
New York Landmarks Conservancy
New York Society of Architects
The Parks Council
Public Art Fund
Sculptors Guild
Van Alen Institute

The Federation’s board meets monthly to formulate positions and coordinate united action on current and emerging issues that affect the aesthetic interests of the community. The common interests and diverse professional expertise of constituent organizations create numerous points of advocacy and are a resource of technical as well as aesthetic advice. The Federation welcomes speakers to their meetings to present projects large and small that affect the quality of life in our city.

The Federation has helped shape the city in projects ranging from the placement of General Sherman’s statue at Grand Army Plaza in 1903, joining with other groups to secure a Planning Commission and the Landmark Preservation Law, encouraging the designation of historic districts and individual landmarks, managing a competition for the City to commission sculptors to enhance the Family Court Building in Manhattan, to advocating the elimination of proliferating unsightly sidewalk newsboxes.

Once a year the Federation seeks highly qualified New York City residents for nomination to the Art Commission, the municipal agency that reviews and approves works of art and architecture design for city owned property. Established by the New York City Charter of 1898 and continuing today, the Mayor of the city of New York appoints members of the Art Commission (a non-salaried, three-year term) from lists of nominees provided to him by the Federation for the posts of painter, sculptor, landscape architect, and architect, and laymen. The Federation also proposes individuals for consideration as members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Fine Arts Federation representatives attend public hearings and submit statements of support or opposition with specific recommendations on many items under review by the Art Commission and Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Interested persons may attend programs presented at the annual (April) and semi-annual (November) meetings of the Board of Directors, presidents, and delegates from member organizations.

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