NYC’s arts and cultural organizations beg for cash as execs pocket millions
As New York City’s arts and cultural organizations beg for more taxpayer funding, they pay millions in pay and perks to their execs.
Spending is particularly wild at the Bronx Zoo. John Calvelli, the executive vice president for public affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society, the organization that runs the Bronx and other zoos, got a $1 million payout in deferred compensation on top of his $389,251 salary in 2017, the nonprofit’s latest tax filings show.
His total compensation package, including more deferred compensation to be paid in the future, came to $1.6 million. It was the same as that of Cristian Samper, the president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, who got $646,098 in salary, $625,100 in “other compensation” including housing valued at $156,000 and $91,238 in tuition reimbursements for his children, and $336,080 in deferred compensation.
Calvelli is a board member of New Yorkers for Culture & Arts, an advocacy group “committed to securing sustainable government resources.”
The group participated a rally on the steps of City Hall last week, with Talking Heads singer David Byrne joining in, to protest Mayor De Blasio’s proposed cuts to museums and cultural groups.
The city provides funding for 33 museums and other institutions located on city-owned property, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, American Museum of Natural History and Lincoln Center. They all lavished fat salaries and perks on their honchos.
Lincoln Center’s latest tax filings show it paid out $180,853 in severance in 2017 to Jed Bernstein, its former director who was forced out in 2016 for not disclosing a romantic relationship with a staffer he promoted. Lincoln Center had already paid him $720,000 in severance in 2016.
A spokeswoman for the organization said the 2017 payment to Bernstein was the last.
Debora Spar, who took over for Bernstein but was reportedly pushed out in 2018 after only a year, was paid $757,577 in 2017 plus a $100,000 bonus.
Ellen Futter, president of the Natural History museum, received a $72,149 bonus in 2017 on top of her $984,752 salary and housing.
Scott Medbury, the president of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, got a $110,00 bonus in 2017 in addition to a salary of $327,394.
A Wildlife Conservation Society spokeswoman said city funding is only used to pay union staff, not executives, and for some education programs.
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