Opinion 2000 - 2


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.


LOCAL LAWS -- Municipal Funds (expenditure by village to promote literary, graphic, dramatic and performing arts)
MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS -- Powers and Duties (promotion of literary, graphic, dramatic and performing arts)
PARKS AND RECREATION -- Recreation Programs (promotion of literary, graphic, dramatic and performing arts)
VILLAGES -- Powers and Duties (promotion of literary, graphic, dramatic and performing arts)

GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW, §§95, 95-a, 99-i, 240 et seq.; MUNICIPAL HOME RULE LAW, §10(l)(i): A village, by resolution, may provide for bands, movies and similar events as part of its recreation, senior citizens and youth programs. It also may enter into agreements with not-for-profit agencies accepting federal funds pursuant to the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965 to provide funds, services and facilities to promote progress and scholarship in the humanities and the arts within the village. In addition, it may, by local law, further provide for the promotion of literary, graphic, dramatic and performing arts by way of demonstrations, performances and exhibits of art and art forms.

You ask whether a village may authorize the expenditure of moneys to promote performing arts and cultural development for its residents by providing directly, or by contract with not-for-profit corporations, theatrical productions, movies and similar presentations or activities. You note that, pursuant to Town Law, §64(17-b), towns are authorized to expend moneys for certain cultural activities.

General Municipal Law, article 13 (§240, et seq.) authorizes municipalities to designate, or acquire by purchase, condemnation or lease, land and buildings for neighborhood recreation centers and playgrounds, and to equip, operate and maintain such playgrounds and recreation centers. In addition, pursuant to General Municipal Law, §95, municipalities may undertake and promote activities and establish, maintain and operate projects devoted in whole or in part to providing leisure-time activities for youth or assistance to children. Similarly, section 95-a of the General Municipal Law authorizes municipalities and school districts to establish, maintain and operate programs devoted in whole or in part to the welfare of the aging, and to contract with not-for-profit entities for operation and maintenance of such programs.

This Office has expressed the opinion that, pursuant to the authority to establish a recreation program under article 13, a municipality may provide and pay for certain entertainment such as a band to play at a dance, movies or similar events (see, e.g., 26 Opns St Comp, 1970, p 124; 1969 Opns St Comp No. 69-1010, unreported). We believe a municipality also may expend moneys for such activities for youth and senior citizens pursuant to General Municipal Law, §§95 and 95-a (see also General Municipal Law, §290; Executive Law, §§422, 543; Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, §61.03, authorizing villages, under certain circumstances, to maintain a band for the entertainment of the public). In addition, we note that villages and other municipal corporations are authorized to enter into agreements with not-for-profit agencies which are authorized to apply for and accept certain federal funds made available pursuant to the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965 (20 USC §951 et seq.) and to provide that funds, services or facilities will be made available to the not-for-profit agency to promote progress and scholarship in the humanities and arts within the municipal corporation (Arts and Cultural Affairs Law, §3.13; General Municipal Law, §99-i; see also General Municipal Law, §99-h). Pursuant to these grants of authority, it appears that the village, by resolution, may accomplish much of what is proposed, in the context of recreation, senior citizen and youth programs, and agreements with not-for-profit agencies accepting federal funds pursuant to the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965.

To the extent that certain of the proposed cultural activities may not fall squarely within the above-referenced statutory authority, we note that Town Law, §64(17-b), as you have indicated, provides that, to promote cultural development, a town board "may appropriate and expend funds for promotion of literary, graphic, dramatic and performing arts by way of demonstrations, performances and exhibits of art and art forms" (see also County Law, §224[13]; General City Law, §20[25-b]). While there is no analogous provision in the Village Law, villages are generally authorized to adopt and amend local laws, not inconsistent with general law or the Constitution, relative to their property, affairs and government (Municipal Home Rule Law, §10[1][i]; see also Village Law, §4-412[1]). We believe that promotion of cultural development in a manner co-extensive to that authorized for towns in Town Law, §64(17-b) is a matter of the property, affairs and government of a village. In this regard, we believe it is evident from the statutory scheme discussed above that promotion of the performing acts and cultural development for the benefit of residents in the manner described in Town Law, §64(17-b) is a matter of local concern and, in our opinion, such a local law, supplementing existing authority, would not be inconsistent with any general law or the Constitution (see, e.g., Barone v Town of Huntington, 211 AD2d 691, 622 NYS2d 68, motion for leave to appeal dismissed 88 NY2d 885, 635 NYS2d 950; Roth v Cuevas, 158 Misc 2d 238, 603 NYS2d 962, affd 197 AD2d 736, affd 82 NY2d 791, 604 NYS2d 551; People v Cook 34 NY2d 102, 356 NYS2d 259).

Accordingly, a village, by resolution, may provide for bands, movies and similar events as part of its recreation, senior citizens and youth programs. It also may enter into agreements
with not-for-profit agencies accepting federal funds pursuant to the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act of 1965 to provide funds, services and facilities to promote progress and scholarship in the humanities and the arts within the village. In addition, it may, by local law, further provide for the promotion of literary, graphic, dramatic and performing arts by way of demonstrations, performances and exhibits of art and art forms.

February 28, 2000
Samuel L. Drayo, Jr., Esq., Village Attorney
Village of Fredonia