CUNY Launches Landmark Initiative to Open City’s Arts and Cultural Institutions to Students

New program will provide free admission to cultural institutions,
enhance academic arts offerings and create arts internships for CUNY students

CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken today announced the launch of CUNY Arts, a comprehensive initiative that will vastly expand opportunities for CUNY students to connect with the arts in New York City, introduce cultural leaders and their institutions to CUNY’s talented, ambitious students, and help diversify New York’s cultural workforce.

The initiative, which is part of the University’s 2016-2020 Master Plan, has multiple components:

  • Many of the city’s most prestigious cultural venues will provide and currently are providing free admission to CUNY students;
  • Academic courses at CUNY campuses will be augmented through wider access to performances and cultural exhibitions, and to the individuals who make those events happen;
  • New degree and certificate programs will be designed to provide CUNY students with skills and education that match the employment needs of the cultural institutions; and
  • Cultural organizations will provide dozens of paid internships to CUNY students, thereby creating job and career

CUNY is simultaneously launching a new website with information about the initiative and the participating cultural institutions. New York City is the world’s arts and culture center, with more than 1,300 institutions – including 700 art galleries, 380 nonprofit theater companies, 131   museums, 96 orchestras, 40 Broadway theaters and 15 major concert halls – as well as hundreds of informal performance spaces from cafés and barges to lofts and outdoor stages.

“Whether it’s a subway musician, an arresting piece of public sculpture, opera at Lincoln Center or a Jackson Pollock in one of the city’s iconic museums, artistic stimulation is part of the air we breathe,” said Chancellor Milliken. “The city is a magnet for every kind of artistic pursuit and a showcase for the best visual and performing arts in the world, which enhances lives, changes lives, and creates great career opportunities. We are now building on that legacy with a fresh jolt of energy to the cultural capital of the world.”

“Culture and the arts have been fundamental to who we are at CUNY, part of our DNA,” said Chancellor Milliken. “For generations, we have taught and nurtured great musicians, writers, painters and cultural leaders – from the actress Ruby Dee to the novelist Oscar Hijuelos and singer Paul Simon. The arts programs at our colleges are taught by some of our most dynamic and accomplished faculty members, and they attract wonderfully creative, talented and inspiring students.”

Institutions that have agreed to waive their admission fees for CUNY students, including The Whitney Museum, El Museo del Barrio, The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Museum of the City of New York, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Frick Collection, and The Jewish Museum. A full list of the participating institutions is attached, and also is available at

Adam Weinberg, Alice Pratt Brown Director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the first museum to join the CUNY Arts initiative, said “The Whitney is proud to partner with CUNY to make access to the arts more equitable. CUNY students can now more readily engage with the ideas and challenges of our diverse and complex culture through celebrated works by American artists. We are thrilled to work with CUNY’s extraordinary students and faculty to encourage a deep connection to the arts and foster greater opportunities for reflection and dialogue.”

In addition, several cultural institutions have been exposing CUNY students to different types of cultural programming. For example, Jazz at Lincoln Center has been hosting a series of Listening Parties, exposing CUNY students to live jazz music while giving them the opportunity to learn about the history of jazz.

“Jazz at Lincoln Center is an advocate for arts education for all ages and supports CUNY on this initiative,” said Todd Stoll, Vice President, Education, Jazz at Lincoln Center. “CUNY Arts enables students to participate in the finest cultural programs the city has to offer. We look forward to hosting thousands of students to our public programs and Listening Parties every month and welcoming them to the global community for jazz.”

Earlier this year, CUNY launched the CUNY Cultural Corps, which provides dozens of paid internships with city cultural institutions, including Carnegie Hall, the American Museum of Natural History, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, New York City Center, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, New York Hall of Science, the Staten Island Zoo and Studio Museum of Harlem. This is supported by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the Rockefeller Foundation. Additional institutions will offer paid internships next year as part of the CUNY Arts initiative.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847, the University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the CUNY School of Medicine, the CUNY Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 274,350 degree-seeking students and 260,000 adult and continuing education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.