One of the things I’ve constantly noticed in New York is how much out of town money goes into boosting the cultural life of the city. I always like looking at the list of sponsors of cultural events and institutions to see who is backing them. Not uncommonly I see out of town names here.
For example, consider all the sums of money that foreign countries spend to market their nation’s culture in New York. Foreign governments are big funders of cultural events such as film festivals here. Now, that’s not totally unique to New York. Consulates around the country routinely do the same. But the scale of what I see here is pretty big.
The government of France has a big cultural mission housed in a Fifth Avenue mansion (see photo above). The government of Korea runs a similar operation. I presume there are many other countries undertaking special purpose cultural marketing in NYC.
It would be interesting research to track down the total amount of foreign government cultural marketing in the US, and what percentage of it is spent in New York City.
A second category is money that was made elsewhere than then gravitated to New York, either because the people who earned it moved there, or because they decided to make a splash in New York.
The Frick Collection museum, for example, is the home and art collection of a guy who made his money in Pittsburgh. (A lot of his art is still there). Sid Richardson Bass, a member of the Texas oil family, moved to NYC and became a major patron of the arts.
Sybil Harrington, a Texas oil heiress, became a huge patron of the Metropolitan Opera. She donated about $30 million to it, I believe mostly in the 70s and 80s, when that was a much bigger deal than it would be today. Similarly, the Met Opera continues to benefit from the largess of the “Gramma Fisher Foundation, Marshalltown Iowa.” Founder Bill Fisher was a Marshalltown industrialist and major patron of American opera companies. He was on the board of the Met for 35 years. These kinds of money flows continue today. Ken Griffin, Illinois’ richest man, gave MoMA $40 million a couple years ago. For the bulk of American art museums that would be their biggest contribution ever.
Another interesting research project would be to find out how much money has and does flow into New York from people who either made their fortune elsewhere then moved to NYC, or from just straight-up out of town donors.
Again, other cities benefit from this to some extent. But I suspect nothing like one the scale of New York.
The fact that so much foreign government and out of town money pours into New York culture is another of the very unique forces that have upheld the city in its preeminent position over the years.