The little grant that could


Make text smaller Make text larger


Or how a modest $2,000 can help an arts group fulfill its mission, raise its profile — and enrich the cultural lives of New Yorkers and tourists


Photos



  • A scene from “The Three Musketeers,” staged by Hudson Warehouse on the north patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park in July 2017. Photo: Susane Lee / Hudson Warehouse




  • A scene from “The Three Musketeers,” staged by Hudson Warehouse on the north patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park in July 2017. Photo: Susane Lee / Hudson Warehouse




  • One World Trade Center and the lower Manhattan skyline provide the backdrop for a recent performance in the Battery Dance Festival on the Esplanade of Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City. Photo: Darial Sneed / Battery Dance




  • A recent performance in the Battery Dance Festival on the Esplanade of Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City. The Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor provide the backdrop. Photo: Darial Sneed / Battery Dance




  • A recent performance in the Battery Dance Festival on the Esplanade of Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City. The Statue of Liberty and New York Harbor provide the backdrop. Photo: Darial Sneed / Battery Dance



“Every single dollar that comes in is meaningful.”

Jonathan Hollander, artistic director of Battery Dance



It’s just $36,000. It’s distributed in every corner of Manhattan. And it’s divided among 18 separate nonprofits.

It won’t pay the rent. It won’t build a building or repair a leaking roof. It can’t be used to hire a staffer or retain a consultant.

But the sums are a windfall for the lucky institutions that receive them. They build brands, boost revenues, broaden audiences.

Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, teaming up with NYC & Company Foundation, announced a series of $2,000 awards law week to theatrical companies, dance troupes, museums, musical ensembles, film festivals and historic-sites projects.

Known as cultural-tourism development grants, they’re designed to market and promote events and exhibits, increase access, expand visitor awareness and grow audiences for the borough’s smaller-sized, lesser-known arts and cultural treasures.

“Manhattan boasts a wealth of cultural gems — not just our massive, globally known institutions, but also our neighborhood museums, studios and cultural spaces,” Brewer said. “These smaller organizations both preserve old traditions and incubate innovative new works and artists.”

Case in point: Hudson Warehouse, a grant recipient that stages three shows every summer season — pay-what-you-can, no-tickets-necessary — on the north patio of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in Riverside Park.

“There’s so much theater in New York City, but we’re here, too,” said Susane Lee, the company’s executive director. “Everybody has their own niche. This is ours.”

BLOOD IN THE PARK

Outdoor theater on a windswept river-facing plateau, and a shoestring budget, isn’t easy. Adding to the challenges, an exhaustive clean-up is required after each production to give the public unfettered access to the park by daybreak.

Consider “Romeo and Juliet,” the current offering. “A lot of people die,” Lee said. So the company can’t leave without scrubbing the stage blood off the patio. “You don’t want people out for a morning jog seeing a lot of blood,” she said.

Hudson Warehouse is already rehearsing its next play, Lee’s adaptation of “The Three Musketeers: 20 Years Later,” based on the Alexandre Dumas novel, that has its world premiere July 5.

The $2,000 grant will help promote and publicize it, she said. A typical month-long show costs roughly $9,000, drawing 1,000 people, each of whom receives a free program costing $1 to produce, so the funds will underwrite some design costs for the playbills.

“It’s a real validation,” Lee said. “We’ve been here 15 years, and now, it’s as if the city is saying to us, ‘Good job. Well done. You guys have stayed the course. You’ve stuck it out. You’re still there. You’re still strong.’”

The grant money is provided by the foundation of NYC & Company, the city’s convention and visitors’ bureau, which administers the program. Brewer’s office selects the grantees and spreads the funds across the borough.

Awards must be used to promote cultural activities, like advertising and tourism outreach, and can’t be tapped for professional fees, personnel, capital projects, travel or entertainment.

Noting that the “arts scene in the borough is constantly evolving,” Fred Dixon, CEO of NYC & Company, said his agency “plays a vital role in ensuring its continued appeal and magnetism.”

Among the $2,000 recipients in the annual grant program:

• Battery Dance at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Park in Battery Park City.

Drawing performers from Botswana, Macedonia, Kazakhstan and Gabon, the company has been a downtown stalwart since its founding in 1976. Forced from its World Trade Center Plaza home on 9/11, and from 1 New York Plaza after Hurricane Sandy, it now commands Statue of Liberty views from the park’s Esplanade.

The group’s 37th annual Battery Dance Festival kicks off August 12, and the free, week-long performances attracts some 12,000 people.

“We see ourselves as ambassadors for lower Manhattan — in a setting that represents our history as an entry point for immigrants from all over the world,” said founder and artistic director Jonathan Hollander.

The grant will pay for marketing materials, and to place posters at downtown hotels, put flyers in ferries and blanket international press outlets to increase attendance.

Battery Dance has a $1.3 million budget. So why would $2,000 make a difference? With a fiscal year starting July 1, the search for funds begins anew every year, and there’s no guarantee that the priorities of its funders haven’t changed, Hollander said.

“Every single dollar that comes in is meaningful,” he added. “When we get $2,000 from here, $2,000 from there, we celebrate.”

• La Casa de la Herencia Cultural Puertorriquena on East 99th Street.

Founded in 1981 to preserve the cultural-literary heritage of the Puerto Rican diaspora, the group will use the funds to support Latin American Icons, a multi-dimensional, multi-cultural, theatrical-musical project conducted by Puerto Rican author-actress-broadcaster Gilda Mirós.

• Chelsea Film Festival at 208 West 23rd St.

The grant will support programming for the international festival’s sixth edition, a series of screenings by emerging filmmakers of indie shorts, features and documentaries with global themes that runs from October 18 to 21.

• The 24 Hour Plays at the American Airlines Theater, 227 West 42nd St.

Every year since 1995, the company has written, directed, rehearsed and performed six new 10-minute plays on Broadway within a 24-hour period. On October 29, it will unveil a similar concept for musicals, creating and performing four new stage works, each up to 20-minutes long, within 24 hours.

The plays involve six writers, six directors and 24 actors. The musicals may be even more complex. Four composers, four book writers, four directors, 20 actors, two choreographers, four musical directors and one live band will collaborate on the project, said Mark Armstrong, the group’s executive director.

Funding will support marketing and advertising efforts: “We’re going to invest in a promotional campaign so that everybody in New York City will learn about us,” Armstrong said.

• NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project in Greenwich Village.

Established in 2015, it’s a scholarly and educational initiative whose founders, as part of a different nonprofit, helped create the nation’s first LGBT historic-sites map in 1994.

The organization is ramping up its lecture and walking tour series as the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots approaches next year. The award will support research and a social media presence to promote its offerings.

“Our interest is in place-based history — the specific locations where history took place, the exact addresses — that gives a visceral and visual connection with the events of the 19th and 20th centuries, if not earlier,” said historic preservation consultant Ken Lustbader, co-director of the project. “It’s a form of time travel through LBGT history.”

invreporter@strausnews.com








Make text smaller Make text larger

Comments



MUST READ NEWS

Image How your neighborhood voted
A Straus News street-level analysis of the Democratic Primary for governor illustrates Manhattan’s fault lines
Image A blue wave on the West Side

By richard barr

It’s usually very rare that an incumbent running for re-election to our State Legislature is defeated. So last week’s primary...

Image Derailing digital deviants
After several Tudor City women were sexually harassed online, two East Side pols crafted a bill that would crack down on threatening behavior in cyberspace

VIDEOS



Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Neighborhood Newsletters





MOST READ

Local News
How your neighborhood voted
  • Sep 18, 2018
City Arts News
More Than Pretty
  • Sep 14, 2018
Local News
Something to write home about
  • Sep 18, 2018
Local News
A blue wave on the West Side
  • Sep 18, 2018
Local News
Drawing board
  • Sep 18, 2018

MOST COMMENTED