Bronxites miss out on Carnegie concerts


The Bronx isn’t getting enough love from Carnegie Hall, according to Comptroller John Liu.

An audit recently released by the comptroller’s office determined the Bronx and Staten Island haven’t been getting their fair share of concerts. 

Back in 1960, the city bought the historic music venue in order to save it from being demolished. Under its current lease, non-profit Carnegie Hall Corporation is required to provide “high quality music programs designed to attract a broad and diverse segment of the population of the City.” The agreement allows Carnegie to set aside $183,600 and, instead of paying rent, to deposit it into a special program fund that pays for free concerts. In fiscal year 2010, Carnegie put on five concerts in the Bronx, compared to 15 in Manhattan, 13 in Queens, 12 in Brooklyn and two in Staten Island.

Mr. Liu argues Carnegie Hall Corporation is not reaching a broad and diverse segment of the population.

The comptroller’s office determined the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs did not adequately monitor Carnegie Hall Corporation to ensure it was providing concerts to the five boroughs.

The concerts in the Bronx were a success, at least according to attendance statistics. Based on a chart in the audit, the Bronx shows were filled 92 percent to capacity

That turnout is better than in any other borough — with Manhattan at 88 percent; Brooklyn at 90 percent; Queens at 66 percent; and Staten Island at 18 percent.

Mr. Liu’s office recommended that the Department of Cultural Affairs stay on top of Carnegie to ensure more shows in all the boroughs.

DCA argued in its written response to the audit that there is no requirement in the lease that says the agency must supervise this.

The agency also argued a broad and diverse segment of the population does not mean reaching all five boroughs.

In a recent interview with The Riverdale Press at Tibbett Diner, Mr. Liu said the cost of putting on these shows is relatively low and said he was concerned about an audit from last year that determined Carnegie Hall’s landlord, Carnegie Tower, owed the city as much as $2.1 million and Carnegie Hall itself, as much as $1 million.

“The bigger amount is like millions of dollars they should have paid to the city of New York, but they didn’t, in addition to not providing the shows and performances to venues across the different boroughs,” Mr. Liu said.