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Demographics
Internet resources for what you need to know on NYC Arts
Five Favorite Sites For Beginners

The Topic
"Arts" is an all-inclusive category encompassing virtually all forms of creative expression. Among its major disciplines are: music, theatre, literature, visual art, spoken word, film and video, and, increasingly, the internet.
The Context
Countless artists, writers, and performers work in New York City every day. Together with their audiences (both homegrown and far-flung) they constantly define and redefine New York City's creative landscape, making it an unparalleled cultural feast.

The City of New York administers a wide-ranging network of programs and subsidies to support the City's artists and arts institutions. The Department of Cultural Affairs estimates that there are more than 1,200 nonprofit arts organizations in the five boroughs. DCA provide partial support to about five hundred such groups. For FY2000 arts support will exceed $100 million. Including capital expenditures for future projects, that figure rises to upwards of $300 million.

The Reporter
Rhonda Zangwill is a writer, editor and teacher in New York City. She does not claim to be a critic, but she knows what she likes. She has been published in various special interest and trade journals, even some that are still in existence.
The Archives
See past monthly updates for Arts.

by Rhonda Zangwill

In The News: Sensation, the Sequel

(apr '00) Two great spectator sports in New York, art and politics, are again embroiled. Hard on the heels of the "Sensation" scuffle at the Brooklyn Museum, is a controversial new work, "Sanitation," featured in the just-opened Whitney Biennial.

"Sanitation," by artist Hans Haacke, is a multimedia installation tucked into a darkened alcove. A dozen large open-lidded trashbins, the heavy-duty rubberized variety, are lined up in perfect symmetry. Behind them are six quotes from Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and other politicos condemning what they view as "objectionable" art. These statements, which flank three overlapped American flags, are written in large, Nazi-favored typescript. Should you miss the point, Haacke has added an aural component -- the ominous sound of jackboots marching, endlessly.

Haacke conceived this piece in response to the Mayor's efforts to withdraw City funds from the Brooklyn Museum last Fall. Hizzoner was offended by a work that depicted an elephant-dung adorned Virgin Mary.

The Mayor also characterized "Sanitation" as offensive. The City will not, however, take any punitive action. Unlike the Brooklyn Museum, the Whitney is a private institution and receives only a few thousand dollars in city funds annually for its education program.

But City support is not the only money in this town that talks -- and walks.

No less a pillar of New York philanthropic society than Marylou Whitney is so angered by "Sanitation" that she has withdrawn her museum patronage. According to the New York Times, Mrs. Whitney believes that the Haacke work belittles the Holocaust (a view shared by the Mayor), politicizes art and violates the principles on which her late mother-in-law, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney founded the museum seventy years ago. She is also angry that the German-born Haacke is showcased in a museum she said "was founded to help American artists."

In a written statement Maxwell Anderson, director the museum, stood by the artist: "Mr. Haacke's career over thirty years has consisted of unceasing assaults on authoritarianism in any form, and of exposing the hidden vestiges of Nazism in Germany and Austria. Deeply disturbing though it is to recall the excesses of the Nazis in order to draw a parallel to contemporary intolerance in the United States, it is the artist's right to do so, and the Whitney will support his right to express his opinions in our galleries."

The artist said that he found the Mayor's statement that he was trivializing the Holocaust to be "quite offensive." He then discussed the Nazi's successful campaign to remove what they termed "degenerate art" in the 1930's. When asked what he wanted people to come away with after seeing "Sanitation," he said, " I would like them to think about the First Amendment."

Rhonda Sounds Off:

Already a millionaire? Or married to one? Sounds like you need a new challenge! Get ready, it's time for Who Wants to be an Art Critic? Here's your first question:

What the heck IS art, anyway?

A. I know what I like, and I don't like you
B. Geldings, if possible.
C. Art schmart, I'm just here for the crabcakes

Excellent. You correctly guessed D: Can I resell this on eBay?

You now qualify for the lightning round. Put the following Art Critic perks in order, from most to least desirable.

A. A seat in the US Senate
B. Free ride on Air Force 2
C. Season tickets to Yankee games
D. Grand Marshall at the annual Yankee parade.

My, you ARE good. You realized that we failed to mention the #1 perk: Lifetime membership in the City's Special Aesthete Patrol.


Rhonda's Favorite Sites For Beginners:

  • NYC Department of Cultural Affairs - Official NYC site sings the Mayor's praises as champion of the arts; details a funding policy clearly weighted towards the city's largest cultural institutions; and explains services offered (e.g. Materials for the Arts, and DCA's Artist's Certification Program). Check out Percent for Art, NYC's program for art in civic spaces, where you'll find great images of work by Vito Acconci, Mel Chin, Alice Aycock and many more.
  • New York State Council on the Arts - Committed to maintaining New York State's culture, NYSCA accomplishes its goal by making grants to non-profit arts organizations. Like the DCA and NYFA (see below), NYSCA is very supportive of those programs which marry technology and the arts, as well as arts-in-education "partnerships". Much emphasis on multiculturalism, decentralization and special opportunities for "the underrepresented". Surf this site to find out where NYSCA's dollars are going and why - as well as how to apply for funding.
  • New York Foundation for the Arts - Statewide service organization, set up by NYSCA. NYFA supports thousands of artists, non-profit arts orgs and arts-in-education initiatives throughout New York, offering fiscal sponsorship, workshops, loans, fellowships, in-school artist residencies and more. Info-rich site but a bit tedious to navigate. Super links! See also Artswire, NYFA's brainchild and now the nation's premier online communications network for the arts.
  • Local Arts Councils in NYC - Check out theBronx Council on the Arts, Brooklyn Arts Council, Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island, Harlem Arts Council , Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Queens Council on the Arts for the skinny on grassroots initiatives.
  • Center for Arts Information - Indy non-profit works closely with municipal agencies to administer ambitious $36 million, 5-year program aimed at restoring arts to public schools. Site details the 82 partnerships created since CAE's inception involving public schools and 135 arts groups.


Other Recommendations:

  • Arts and Business Council - Excellent resource for arts groups in need of corporate assistance and/or better business skills. The Arts and Business Council matchmakes between would-be business volunteers and non-profits in need of Board Members, fundraisers, et al.. Special feature: A2B (Arts to Business) databank listing services offered by NYC arts organizations.
  • Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting - Targeted at the for-profit side of the arts biz - also known as the Entertainment Industry. Find out everything you need to know to shoot a film in NYC from industry regulations to sunrise/sunset charts to the Teamsters' local address and phone number. MOFTB motto: "We have a reputation for finding a way to say yes."
  • New York Landmarks Commission - Official site of municipal agency responsible for designating and protecting New York City landmarks. What is a landmark? How do you demolish one if you own it and the maintenance is bankrupting you? Can you install air conditioners in a landmark? Find out here.
  • Public Art Fund - Presents work of contemporary artists in NYC public spaces. Browse this site for images and precis of current projects from the ridiculous - Jones and Ginzel's Metronome - to the sublime - Ron Baron's magical, minimalist Birds. Special Initiative: In the Public Realm offering emerging/under-recognized artists the chance to create a temporary work in a public space. Find out how, when and where to submit proposals.
  • Creative Time - Also presents public art but of hipper, more postmodern variety than PAF's. Past projects include rumors spread via matchbooks throughout NYC and an exploration of the meaning of fashion in the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. 42nd Street Art Project, developed in tandem with the 42nd Street Development Project. A must see.
  • Dance Theater Workshop (DTW) - Premier fiscal sponsor and service provider for NYC performing arts groups. Manages the National Performance Network (NPN) - a coalition of 50 cultural organizers across the U.S. and sponsors the international Suitcase Fund.
  • Project Arts - With a $75 million budget, Project ARTS - the Board of Ed's initiative to restore "standards-based" arts education to NYC's schools -- wants to be taken seriously. One thing's for sure, however: the money certainly isn't going to its website. Worth a visit if only for the questions it raises.

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