Governor George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg today announced that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) will award $27.4 million in cultural enhancement grants to 63 Lower Manhattan arts organizations and projects. The grants are expected to leverage more than $410 million in investments for cultural institutions below Houston Street. The LMDC Board of Directors is expected to approve the grants ranging from $20,000 to $2 million at a Board meeting on Thursday. In November 2005, the Board adopted guidelines for cultural enhancement funds. The Board also previously allocated up to $10 million for a new home for the Drawing Center.
Governor George E. Pataki said, “The commitment of nearly $30 million in funding will go a long way towards ensuring that Lower Manhattan will not only be known as the World’s Financial Capital, but as a landmark cultural destination. These new grants will bring a diverse and broad range of cultural programming downtown continuing Lower Manhattan’s transformation into a 24/7 community. These institutions will serve to unite the local community, to educate, inform, and inspire visitors, as well as animate and redefine the neighborhood. New cultural institutions and festivals will complement and rejuvenate an area already rich in cultural and historic sites, and will continue to stimulate economic investments in Lower Manhattan.”
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said, “These organizations represent the energy, diversity, and excellence of New York City’s non-profit cultural community, which is the backbone of our tourism industry and a magnet for students, businesses and new residents. By strengthening organizations over time, allowing projects to move faster, and attracting new cultural programs to the area, we are helping to reinforce and expand Lower Manhattan’s identity as an exciting cultural center for artists and audiences from here and around the world.”
Funding allocations are based on criteria established by the LMDC Board, which were released in Guidelines last November, and included: ability of the proposed project to spur long-term Lower Manhattan revitalization; programmatic excellence; capacity to leverage additional investments in culture in Lower Manhattan; organizational and fiscal viability; and durability as an investment.
The proposed grants would be used for new construction, renovations, project planning, events and programming. Grant recipients include museums, theaters, and dance and music performance venues.
LMDC Chairman John Whitehead said, “I appreciate the Panel’s thorough work in making recommendations to award grants to these sixty-three outstanding institutions, all of which are committed to furthering Lower Manhattan’s reputation as a place where cultural richness and diversity thrive. These funds will offer an infusion of innovative arts opportunities for the residents of Lower Manhattan, New Yorkers, and visitors from around the nation and the world.”
LMDC President Stefan Pryor said, “Today’s announcement demonstrates a continued commitment by Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg to the future of the arts and culture in Lower Manhattan. Through LMDC funding, these projects will enhance the vibrancy of our community by bringing new institutions to the area and by funding first-rate organizations that already have deep roots in our neighborhood.”
The announcement is the result of a diligent and thoughtful application review process conducted by a Cultural Enhancement Fund Advisory Panel, which the LMDC Board authorized to make recommendations regarding the applicants at its November board meeting. Based on the applications received, the Cultural Enhancement Fund Advisory Panel made recommendations to the LMDC Board’s Cultural Working Group. The Working Group will present the final slate of funded projects to the Board on Thursday. Cultural Enhancement Funds are made possible by a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) administered by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Cultural Enhancement Fund Advisory Panel members are Kate D. Levin, NYC Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Lower Manhattan resident; Richard Schwartz, Chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts; Eddy Bayardelle, Director of Global Philanthropy, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. and Lower Manhattan resident; Anita Contini, Senior Vice President and Director of Corporate and Public Affairs, CIT Group Inc. and Lower Manhattan resident; and Tom Finkelpearl, Executive Director, The Queens Museum of Art and Lower Manhattan resident.
Included in the grants that will be approved on Thursday are:
Church Street School for Music and Art -- $400,000LMDC funds will assist the organization in acquiring and renovating an additional 5,000 square feet adjacent to its current facility and will allow the school to increase the audience it serves. (Tribeca)
“This support is pivotal in the life of Church Street School for Music and Art, in that it assures that we will continue to grow with our growing communities,” said Lisa Ecklund-Flores, Director of the Church Street School for Music and Art. “This support is also crucial to the revitalization of Lower Manhattan and the cultural institutions providing services here, because it assures that downtown non-profits, dedicated to the arts, can remain steadfast in their mission to provide essential and high-quality programs, both now and for generations to come.”
Downtown Community Television Center -- $800,000LMDC funds will assist with the build-out of DCTV’s lower level space, allowing for the creation of a 120-seat screening room dedicated to documentary film and additional classrooms. (Chinatown/Tribeca)
“We can't wait to expand our services and our facilities -- this grant provides new opportunities to us and to our community,” said Jon Alpert, Executive Director of the of the Downtown Community TV Center. “We appreciate the support and invite the public to come on down to our classes, attend screenings and watch our shows on TV. This grant will be a real catalyst to the growth of the Independent Film and Media Community.”
Flea Theater -- $500,000LMDC funds will assist the Flea in expanding and renovating its current space to raise the theater to Off-Off-Broadway standards. (Tribeca)
“We are thrilled and extremely grateful for this generous vote of confidence from the LMDC. The Flea is profoundly committed to the revitalization of downtown and the incredible cultural life of our city. Long live off-off-Broadway,” said Sigourney Weaver, Board member of the Flea.
Henry Street Settlement -- $1,000,000LMDC funds will assist with capital improvements to the Center, which includes three theaters and an exterior amphitheater. (Lower East Side)
“Henry Street Settlement’s Abrons Arts Center has supported the careers of thousands of artists and currently serves over 40,000 people each year through its arts instruction and presenting activities,” said Verona Middleton-Jeter, Executive Director of Henry Street Settlement. “At a time when the Lower Manhattan community seeks stability and innovative growth, an investment by LMDC in the neighborhood’s oldest continuously operating artistic and cultural center will enable us to significantly expand our services and contribute to downtown revitalization.”
H.T. Dance Company -- $50,000LMDC funds will help create a multi-media center at the organization’s home. (Chinatown)
“This grant will breathe life into the artists’