For the last 12 years, Tom Finkelpearl ’79 has been an advocate for arts outreach in Queens as president and executive director of the Queens Museum. This month, he received the opportunity to expand his reach to all five boroughs as New York City’s commissioner of cultural affairs, an appointment announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio on April 7.
Finkelpearl’s work at the Queens Museum was a major factor in de Blasio’s choice. “When you’re making a choice on someone to lead an agency, you need vision and you need the ability to follow through in action,” he said at a news conference. “And Tom Finkelpearl proved to me that he knew how to do both.”
Finkelpearl, in remarks at the same event, noted that while New York City profits economically as a magnet for those who appreciate art and culture, the arts also have social value for the city’s communities. “And I think that this is an argument that hasn’t been well made by the city,” he said. “But if you look again, what happens on the community level with artists in all the neighborhoods of New York City, there’s something extremely valuable, moving, that’s good for communities. And I intend to try to understand how we can best express that value.”