Tom Finkelpearl to Take Leave of Absence as Cultural Commissioner Citing Health Issues

by Paddy Johnson on September 21, 2015 Newswire

Tom Finkelpearl at the Queens Museum

Tom Finkelpearl at the Queens Museum

The mayor’s office announced late today that Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl will take a leave of absence to treat a health issue. Although the release did not name the illness, Finkelpearl wrote in a Facebook later today that he was fighting cancer. “As some of you know,” the commissioner wrote “I have been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin B-cell lymphoma. Serious, indeed, but I am expecting to recover and be back at my job after several courses of Chemo over a number of months. (Liking this post will be accepted as your liking my recovery, not my cancer!)”

No return date was given, but according to the press release DCLA Deputy Commissioner Edwin Torres will serve as Acting Commissioner until he returns.

Since his tenure, Finkelpearl has worked on a number of initiatives, including the diversity initiative, which encourages more inclusive cultural community, and was instrumental in securing free cultural memberships for IDNYC card holders.

In a statement sent out earlier today by the mayor’s office he wrote, “Our colleagues throughout City government have embraced the power of the arts to enhance services and engage audiences, giving us the opportunity to collaborate on exciting new initiatives like expanding affordable housing and workspaces for artists, and placing artists-in-residence in city agencies…I have every confidence in my team’s ability to carry the Department’s vital projects forward while I take a leave of absence to focus on my recovery. I can’t wait to continue our work together when I return.”

This is important work and as many of us who work in the New York art world know, Tom Finkelpearl has made a career of creating cultural institutions that are accessible to everyone. We wish Tom Finkelpearl the swiftest recovery.

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