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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. Cultural Affairs provides 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
Norma Munn is the chairwoman of the New York City Arts Coalition, a citywide advocacy group. She is also president of the Artists Community Federal Credit Union, and is a former chairwoman of The City Club of New York.
Simon Watson is the executive director of Downtown Arts Projects, a New York-based non profit dedicated to emerging artists of all disciplines.
The Archives
See past monthly updates for Arts.

by Simon Watson

Heart of Brooklyn

(Sept '01) The lion's share of New York City's art and cultural media attention, and resulting visitor traffic, seems to go to the cultural institutions located in Midtown Manhattan and the Museum Mile. That is great for the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the Whitney. But how do you compete for a share of that audience when your cultural institution resides outside that mid-Manhattan preserve?

A group of six Brooklyn institutions has found a solution by banding together to promote themselves as a cultural destination -- in the Heart of Brooklyn.

Established informally in 1998 by the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn Public Library, Prospect Park Alliance and Prospect Park Zoo, the Heart of Brooklyn Cultural Consortium is a model of intra-institutional collective action. The directors and trustees of the member organizations share a vision of heightening cultural awareness and substantially increasing programming opportunities for their membership and the public.

"It just makes a great deal of sense to bring it all together. We all have existing programming relationships, but it seemed better to work together formally rather than just on an ad-hoc basis" says Arnold Lehman, board member of Heart of Brooklyn and director of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. "More than that, our goals are to tell people how easy it is to get to the Heart of Brooklyn and how much there is to do when you're here. From art and science to a stroll in the park, there's something for everyone and all ages."

Educational programming is a highlight of Heart of Brooklyn Activities. It is a vehicle for increasing access to the vast educational and cultural resources and collections of the member institutions, and it is a way to promote each of the Heart of Brooklyn projects through the member institutions.

Branding the Heart of Brooklyn as a "better and stronger destination point for the people of Brooklyn and the city is certainly a major goal of ours" says Tupper Thomas, president of the Consortium (as well as president of Prospect Park Alliance and administrator of Prospect Park). "But mostly we're working on a number of wonderful projects that we've worked on for a number of years, like the Trolley and the Children's Adventure Program."

The members of Heart Of Brooklyn jointly participate in a variety of activities:

Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program is a recreational camp for children 10 to 12 years old representing a broad cross-section of Brooklyn's population. It was created in 1998 to engage children in fun, educational activities in summer and winter that introduce them to each institution's collections.

The Brooklyn Expedition is a web site that increases educational services to the community by offering teachers, children and families the resources of three major Brooklyn institutions, the Brooklyn Children's Museum, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Public Library.

Additionally, five of the consortium's members collaborate to run the Heart of Brooklyn Trolley, with hourly stops throughout Prospect Park and its neighboring cultural institutions. The trolley is free of charge and connects with the Brooklyn Children's Museum Trolley.

"Heart of Brooklyn is working because it's a good idea, and also because the directors are enthusiastic about working together" says Ellen Salpeter. "During the extensive planning process, we studied institutional partnerships in other parts of the country and found that ours was unique in its diversity of membership." They have served as a model for proposed partnerships in Queens, Staten Island and Newark.

"We're a very collegial group, which isn't always the norm" says Tupper. "This group of institutions has something very unique to offer, unlike anything in the world."

The official announcement of the creation of the Heart of Brooklyn Cultural Consortium will be made in February.

Norma'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:

  • New York Women in Film and Television - Insider perspective on how the film industry works in NYC. Interesting series of open meetings about film and tv.
  • Third World Newsreel - Great site for searching by topic for films and video you may recall only vaguely. 30 year collection.
  • Harvestworks - Established for artists using electronic technology, but site is easy to use and should pique the curiosity of anyone interested in the arts. Calendar and good links to lots of other sites.
  • Meet the Composer - Offers listing of opportunities competitions for artists, and for the non-composer has a great series of conversations with composers.
  • Poets & Writers - A bit focused on the industry, but the Trivia question alone is worth visiting if you are a reader. Good resource page.
  • The Kitchen - This center for video, music, dance, performance and literature has real info on video. List of those it has sponsored, presented or worked with reads like a Who's Who of the video/music/performance combinations we now take for granted.
  • Theatre Development Fund - Group supports production of new play and musicals, but best known for the TKTS booth in Times Square. Advantage of the site, aside from telling you a lot more about theatre and TDF, is that you can get on their mailing list for discount seating if you are on the following "students, teachers, union members, retired person, performing arts professionals, the clergy, and members of the armed forces."

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