, , , , , , , ,

Rolling the Rockefellers

Sunday, October 18, 2009 Leave a Comment

The recipients of the 2009 Rockefeller Foundation New York City Cultural Innovation Fund Awards have been announced! (h/t NYC Spaces) Grants of $50,000 to $250,000 were given to 18 NYC cultural insitutions for a total investment of $2.7 million.

Looking over the list of recipients and considering the very brief summaries of how they'll use the money, some interesting trends emerge; and given our recent conversations on Community Supported Theatre, Indie Theatre Repertory, and improving quality, some potential opportunities appear.

In thinking about Stolen Chair's CST, the following recipients seem like possible allies:

Creative Capital, to harvest successful business and NGO capital-generation models for the benefit of artists
The New School, for a design and public policy partnership to research, promote, and amplify community-based solutions for sustainability
Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York, to develop sustainable business models that enable Off and Off Off Broadway theaters to survive and thrive

The idea of theatres moving towards a more sustainable, engaged relationship with audiences (or participants, if you prefer) by adopting strategies that mirror Community Supported Agriculture seems a great fit with the above recipients. I look forward to learning more about how the above 3 institutions are using these grants, and if there is the overlap potential for shared action.

There is something in the air right now with this idea - the conversation between Parabasis, Stolen Chair and this blog occured around the same time as a parallel discussion between Scott Walters and Chris Ashworth. While I'm certain that Creative Capital, ART/NY and New School have their own excellent plans to explore alternative models of sustainability and community engagement; surely there are opportunities for collaboration when it seems all these boats are rowing in a similar direction.

The ART/NY proposal also seems like a possible ally with the Indie Theatre Repertory idea, along with:

Alliance for Downtown New York, Inc., for a creative arts district prototype that supports permanent artists’ workspaces and commercial growth

What better anchor for a creative arts district than a thriving repertory of the best in Indie theatre? And what better model for sustainability for Off and Off-Off theatre artists than creating a legitimate lifeline from Showcase Codes to open ended paying jobs? Well, there may be better anchors and models, but I look forward to learning the details and seeing if there is room for the ITR idea.

Finally, in thinking of improving quality, I have some hopes for this grant recipient:

The Alliance for the Arts, to pioneer open-source Web applications for the New York City cultural community

Given the (hopefully developing) existance of AEP, I'd love to see this open source application be focused towards practitioners. A wiki collaborative website could be extremely useful to the field. Right now, the blogosphere is constantly generating exciting ideas, but because there is no shared central resource aggregating those ideas and tracking their follow through, frequently those ideas don't move into practice. Time passes and we have the same conversations again.

But with an NYC theatre wiki, we could track the 50/50 in 2020 project in real time; have a warehouse of best practices; and have a one stop shop to share resources and build on ideas. A practicioner wiki would help us build our castles a little further from the tide.

I should also add that this idea is crazy exciting:

Teatro Círculo, to grow Latino audiences by training micro-entrepreneurs, from empanada vendors to beauty shop owners, to become sales agents for cultural events

This connects not only with CST, but also with any organization empowering their existing audience to take ownership of and become an ambassador for the work. I can't wait to follow the progress of this project.

Congratulations to all of the grant recipients, and I hope you didn't mind my dreaming with other people's money.