For the first time in its 40 year history, the Central Park Conservancy is facing a deficit due to major event cancellations, a decrease in park-based revenues and reduced support from NYC. To help offset an anticipated $10 million budget shortfall over the next two years, the Conservancy has launched the Essential Central Park Fund.
In an email, Central Park Conservancy President and CEO, Elizabeth W. Smith wrote “Now more than ever, Central Park needs your reliable, consistent support.” This fund will keep the park open, inviting, and comforting respite, she noted.
75% of The Conservancy’s annual operating budget comes from donations and the remainder from municipal and state tax revenue. With the pandemic causing devastating revenue shortfalls for the City, budget cuts, reduced foot traffic and declined payments from regular contributors have led to the projected $10 million deficit.
Founded in 1980, the Central Park Conservancy was initially devoted to fundraising projects to restore and improve the park in the aftermath of its decline in the 1960s and 1970s. Since its inception, the organization has invested over $800 million in restorations and enhancements to the park. In 1998, they took over the park’s management duties.
“I would like to invite you to become a monthly donor today. And, for the rest of the year, the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust will increase your monthly gift to the Essential Central Park fund by 50%,” wrote Smith.
The New York City Marathon, Global Citizen Festival and Central Park Summer Stage were all cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. New Yorkers have relied on Central Park as an easier way to get out and socially distance during COVID.
The Conservancy’s attentiveness to the recent blizzard – quickly responding so visitors could enjoy its splendor on paved paths – is the kind of work their Essential Central Park Fund will allow them to continue.
The Central Park Conservancy has earned several honors over the years for their outstanding commitment to the preservation and care of the park. This includes the American Society of Landscape Architects awarding the Conservancy the Landscape Architecture Medal of Excellence in 2017.
In Kurt Vonnegut’s 1963 satirical postmodern novel, Cat’s Cradle, he penned “Oh, a sleeping drunkard up in Central Park, and a lion-hunter in the jungle dark, and a Chinese dentist, and a British queen—All fit together in the same machine. Nice, nice, very nice; Nice, nice, very nice; nice, nice, very nice—So many different people in the same device.”