Arthur Avenue Restaurateur Delivers Empty Pizza Boxes To City Hall In Objection to Proposed 58% Budget Cuts To New York City Cultural Organizations

Businesses depend on cultural organizations to bring tourists and customers to neighborhood shops and restaurants

Go to www.wcs.org/cityhall to sign the petition to restore funding to cultural organizations including the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium

BRONX, NY –June 13, 2012– Joe Migliucci, owner of the iconic Mario’s Restaurant on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, sent a message to City Hall today packaged in a way that is sure to get his point across – pizza boxes containing a metaphor rather than a pie.

The boxes were delivered with a letter from Joe that explains how small businesses in all five boroughs rely on cultural organizations to drive visitors and tourists to neighborhoods – and customers to local businesses.

The boxes contain a life-sized image of a pizza with most of its slices gone – 58 percent to be precise – the same amount the city is proposing to reduce operational support of New York’s cultural organizations in its recent budget proposal.

“How long do you think I could stay in business if I were to deliver only 48 percent of a pizza when a customer called for a whole pie?” asked Migliucci. “Mario’s restaurant has been an Arthur Avenue institution since it was established in 1919. There are businesses like mine on every corner of New York City – stores and restaurants that depend on cultural organizations to bring people into the neighborhoods and customers through the doors.”

ohn Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs said: “The city depends on culture as an economic driver, and culture relies on the support of the city. An investment in culture is an investment in the economic health of New York City. Without culture, New Yorkers are left with only a slice of what makes this city great.”

New Yorkers are being asked to take action by visiting www.wcs.org/cityhall to sign the petition and send a message to City Hall.

The Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium are part of a larger group of 33 private cultural organizations operating on city-owned property that are facing proposed budget cuts. If the budget is adopted as currently proposed, the zoo and aquarium will lose nearly 58 percent of their city operating support. The budget proposal also impacts hundreds of other cultural organizations throughout New York City.

The Wildlife Conservation Society alone, which runs the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo, pumps $429 million into the economy annually. More than 4 million guests visit WCS facilities each year – buying from local merchants in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and across New York City. These cuts will potentially impact businesses, communities, and families in the neighborhoods they serve.

As New York City lawmakers negotiate the executive budget proposal, WCS is asking New Yorkers to go to www.wcs.org/cityhall to sign a petition urging officials to restore funding for the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, and all of the city’s cultural organizations. New Yorkers, families, businesses, and community and political leaders can collectively make a difference for culture in New York City by sending a message to City Hall that if this cut of nearly 58 percent is implemented, the impact will be immediately felt in communities across all five boroughs.

Go to www.wcs.org/cityhall to sign the petition and save New York City’s cultural organizations.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

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