"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
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.
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.
In The News: Board of Education Hosts Student Performers
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 -
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.
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 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.