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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: Board of Education Hosts Student Performers

(may '00)

The Board of Education hardly springs to mind when one thinks of New York City cultural institutions. But every Monday for one idyllic hour this most embattled of NY bureaucracies is transformed into the city's newest -- if most unusual -- performance venue. Since March dozens of student singers, poets, actors, dancers, and musicians -- all culled from NYC public schools -- have appeared through a new program, Arts Mondays.

This initiative is the brainchild of Harold O. Levy, currently interim schools chancellor but said to have the inside track on a permanent appointment. According to Levy, Arts Mondays "are a terrific celebration of the children of the public schools of New York City, the world capital of the arts."

While this program is designed to showcase talented students, it is also a way to motivate administrators in a very direct, personal way. Those who work at the Board of Education have few opportunities to interact with students -- their raison d'etre. Similarly, students are not a common sight at Livingston Street.

Executive Assistant to the Chancellor Jonathan Levi explained. "When we see the discipline and passion of the young performers in front of us, we marvel at their commitment and renew our own. Arts Mondays are about crystallizing for ourselves the importance of the arts in our students' educations."

In the last three years, arts education programs in City schools have grown prodigiously, thanks to Project Arts and the Center for Arts Education. Each year arts education funding has increased until now, for the 1999-2000 school year, Levy reports that "every one of the 1,100 schools in the system has a program dedicated to the arts."

Thus far Arts Mondays have presented a generous sampling of students' artistic passions. These include jazz from Bayside High School teenagers, aspiring poets from Stuyvesant High School, a musical theatre showcase and poetry recitation by, respectively, Brooklyn and Bronx elementary students and, not least, opera. This last is a known favorite of the Mayor, although he has not yet been sighted in the lunchtime crowd. No matter, the audiences for Arts Mondays are probably better off without Giuliani right in their midst, especially if there are any more programs like the very first waiting in the wings: That's when students from Talent Unlimited High School sang selections from "Working," the musical based upon a book by that famously pro-union octogenarian Studs Terkel.

Arts Mondays performances will continue at the Board of Education through the school year.

Rhonda Sounds Off:

The culture wars haven't been going so well for the Mayor lately. First there was the Brooklyn Museum mess and the City's ultimate capitulation. Then that German artist used him over at the Whitney in a most unflattering way. Now even his own home is no sanctuary.

Donna Hanover, the Mayor's wife, is about to take a turn in "The Vagina Monologues." This extraordinary feminist play by Eve Ensler celebrates women, and like the title says, their vaginas -- as well as many other parts, including hearts and minds. (I saw it a few years ago and believed then, as now, that everyone should see it, regardless of the player.)

But Ms. Hanover's most recent foray into thespianism is hardly the kind of vote-getting strategy a Republican senatorial candidate might choose for his spouse. Still, one explanation might be that this simply illustrates what a truly liberated 21st century kind of guy Donna married -- one who would never even dream of limiting her activities. Here's another theory: familiarity breeds contempt. In this case though it may well breed more, or at least more effective contempt than can be mustered by even the Mayor's less personal critics. Let's hear it for family values.


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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