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Queens Museum director Tom Finkelpearl to head Department of Cultural Affairs

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Tom Finkelpearl will serve as commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday afternoon.

As executive director of the Queens Museum since 2002, Finkelpearl spearheaded efforts to increase accessibility to arts and culture, where he undertook a major expansion that doubled the size of the museum.

He previously served as a deputy director and public affairs officer for Long Island City's P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMa PS1), where he also went on to organize major exhibitions. He also served as executive director of programs at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine and as director of the Percent for Art Program at the Department of Cultural Affairs.

"With his decades of experience in fortifying the city's cultural institutions, Tom has developed a deep understanding of the powerful role of art and culture play in moving our city forward, and the necessity of increasing access to our creative landmarks for all New Yorkers," de Blasio said in a statement.

Finkelpearl, who has more than 30 years of experience in museum management and arts education, said he plans to foster cultural activities in the city for all New Yorkers to enjoy.

"Our work is part of what distinguishes New York City as a cultural epicenter, and I look forward to working to fortify the already diverse offerings of the city's arts and cultural life," he said.

The announcement comes just as New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer announced that there are substantial disparities in arts education.

Twenty-eight percent of schools, or 419 schools, lack a full-time certified arts teacher. And 42 percent of schools in the South Bronx and Central Brooklyn do not have full-time or part-time certified arts teachers and nearly 50 percent have neither a certified arts teacher nor a partnership with an arts or cultural organization.