Empty Cannoli Shells Delivered to City Council as Arthur Avenue Pastry Chef Protests 53% Budget Cuts to Cultural Organizations

  • Cannoli index: When cultural organizations do well, more cannolis are sold and local businesses thrive
  • Businesses depend on cultural organizations to drive tourists to neighborhoods and customers to shops and restaurants
  • Go to bronxzoo.com to sign the petition and send a message to City Hall

BRONX, NY –June 13, 2011– Jerome Raguso, owner of Gino’s Pastry Shop on Arthur Avenue, sent a message to several members of New York City Council today packaged in a way that is sure to get his point across – it’s about the cannoli index.
Unfilled cannoli shells were delivered with a note from Jerome that explains how small businesses in all five boroughs rely on cultural organizations to drive tourism to the surrounding neighborhoods and customers to local businesses.
The city’s proposed budget cuts operational support of the New York’s cultural organizations by 53 percent. The empty pastry shells represent 47 percent of a cannoli – a metaphor for how the city and cultural organizations depend on each other and neither can stand alone.
“No one likes 47 percent of a cannoli,” said Jerome. “Gino’s Pastry Shop has been an Arthur Avenue staple for 50 years. When the neighboring Bronx Zoo is busy, we sell more cannolis and make more profits. The budget cuts are unfair to businesses and families that depend on these organizations to survive.”
 John 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. Without culture, New Yorkers are left with only the shell of what makes this city great.”
Next year’s proposed budget will cut support of all New York City cultural organizations by more than 50 percent, which means the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium face a $4.7 million cut, bringing down city support to $4 million. For more than 100 years, the city has been a part of a public private partnership with these world-class organizations and these cuts would threaten the future of both.
The Wildlife Conservation Society alone, which runs the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo,  pumps more than $316 million into New York City’s economy. More than four million guests visit WCS facilities each year, buying from local merchants in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and across New York.  
Calvelli continued: “When you cut culture in New York City – you are hurting New Yorkers and New York, especially during a time of high unemployment. Our zoo and aquarium and all of our city’s cultural organizations, including our museums, gardens, and performing arts groups, are in communities where families rely on them for jobs and where merchants rely on them to drive tourism and business.”
As New York City lawmakers negotiate the executive budget proposal, WCS is asking New Yorkers to go to bronxzoo.com to sign a petition urging officials to restore funding for the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, and all our city’s cultural organizations. New Yorkers, families, businesses, 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 more than 50 percent is implemented, the devastation will be immediately felt in communities across all five boroughs.
Go to bronxzoo.com to sign the petition and save New York City’s cultural organizations.

Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; sfairchild@wcs.org

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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