Gonzalo Casals is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. As Commissioner, he directs cultural policy for the City of New York and oversees hundreds of millions of dollars in City funding for over 1,000 nonprofit arts and cultural organizations including performing, literary and visual arts organizations as well as historical societies, service organizations, zoos, botanical gardens, environmental centers and organizations working in new media.
A Queer Latinx immigrant, Gonzalo Casals, is a fervent believer in a cultural democracy. Prior to his appointment by Mayor Bill de Blasio in March 2020, he was the Director of the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art in New York. His experience ranges from innovative cultural programming, authentic engagement strategies, and progressive public policy.
As Vice President of Programs and Community Engagement at Friends of the High Line, he led the team in a transformative process that shifted the focus of the organization to equitable cultural practices to impact its surrounding neighborhoods. For over 7 years, Gonzalo held various roles at El Museo del Barrio. His tenure as Director of Education and Public Programs focused on cultural production as a vehicle to foster empowerment, social capital, and civic participation.
Gonzalo was part of the consultant team that led public engagement for CreateNYC, New York City’s first comprehensive cultural plan, and was a member of the NYC Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, which developed guidelines on how the City should address monuments seen as inconsistent with the values of New York City. He is a member of the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCD-NY), a citywide alliance to revitalize NYC arts and culture from the neighborhood up.
His work and opinions have been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Bomb Magazine, WNYC NY, and The Huffington Post.
A regular guest speaker on arts, culture, equity, and inclusion, Gonzalo teaches at the University of the City Of New York (CUNY), New York University, and Yale University. He is an active participant in Jackson Heights, Queens’ civic life where he has lived since 2002.