The city’s cultural-affairs commissioner is resigning amid controversy surrounding the agency’s snub of Italian-American icon Mother Frances Cabrini, the Mayor’s Office said Thursday.
Mayor de Blasio announced the departure of Tom Finkelpearl in a statement that made no mention of the public-monuments furor.
“Tom has done a remarkable job in creating a more equitable and accessible cultural sector for all New Yorkers,” de Blasio said.
“He has touched the lives of millions of everyday New Yorkers with the joys of art, history and nature and I thank him for his dedicated service to the City.”
Finkelpearl has headed the Department of Cultural Affairs since 2014 and said Thursday that he enjoyed his time at the agency.
“It has been deeply gratifying to witness and support the indispensable role that art and culture play in the lives of all New Yorkers,” he said in a statement.
His agency — and city First Lady Chirlane McCray — came under fire over the summer when it was revealed that Mother Cabrini would not be honored with a statue, despite receiving the most votes from New Yorkers in a survey.
The Italian-American nun died in 1917 and was made a saint in 1946.
McCray launched “She Built NYC,” which conducted the survey, with the help of of Finkelpearl’s agency.
The decision to snub Mother Cabrini infuriated the Italian-American community, including actor/writer Chazz Palminteri, who denounced McCray.
“Absolutely, she is being racist,” he fumed said on the “Bernie & Sid” show on WABC radio.
“C’mon. As Italian Americans we have to speak up. If you’re an Italian American and you’re listening to us right now, and if you have any soul in you, you have to do something. Stand up and do something.”
City Hall has said that Mother Cabrini could get be honored with a statue in the future, but provided no details.
On Columbus Day, Gov. Cuomo jumped into the fray by one-upping his rival de Blasio — saying the state could fund a Cabrini statue in the city.
Of the seven figures chosen for statues, four were black — singer Billie Holiday, Rep. Shirley Chisholm, LGBTQ activist Marsha Johnson and educator Elizabeth Jennings Graham Two others, abortion-rights activist Helen Rodriguez Trías and transgender advocate Sylvia Rivera, were Hispanic. Lighthouse keeper Katherine Walker was white.