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#NYSCASuccess: How Flushing Town Hall Cultivates Community

Flushing Town Hall in Queens. Photo by Shawn Choi.

A watercolor of a majestic tiger baring its teeth catches your eye as you walk through the Korean Art Gallery at Flushing Town Hall, but your ears lure you upstairs.

In the theater, a lilting Taiwanese pop song drifts into the soca beat of a Jamaican party hit, both peppered with handclaps and laughter as audience members abandon their seats to dance in front of the stage.

Between sets, a recorded sax wails on “The Man I Love,” and the scent of deep-fried samosas draws a line at the concession stand.

At most performing arts centers, this could be the scene of International Night, or some kind of special occasion.

But at Flushing Town Hall, it’s just a typical Friday evening.

“One goal of our programming is to surprise and delight audiences with unexpected combinations,” says Flushing Town Hall Deputy Director Sami Abu Shumays.

Located in Queens County, where more than 100 languages are spoken, Flushing Town Hall has become a model of inclusive programming, engaging local audiences and visitors by celebrating “global arts for a global community.”

A NYSCA grantee through our Presenting and State & Local Partnership Programs, FTH features local, immigrant, national and international artists, with a focus on populations from China, Korea, Latin America and South Asia. Within its historic 19th century landmark building, multidisciplinary offerings include classical, theater, dance, spoken word, world music, arts education, visual art, comedy and more. The venue also honors Queens as the “home of jazz” with monthly jam sessions, a 10-hour annual jazz festival, and season concerts.

Falu’s Bollywood Orchestra, 2016. Photo by Shawn Choi.

“We maintain a commitment to presenting a multiplicity of cultures and artistic disciplines, and work that we feel diverse audiences will connect to,” says Shumays.

Altogether, Flushing Town Hall serves more than 50,000 annually through performances, exhibitions, special events such as a Lunar New Year Celebration, and collaborations with institutions ranging from Carnegie Hall to The Moth. Programs are often unique to the venue, such as the Global Mashups series, which pairs dance lessons and music exploring different world traditions – earlier this month, Taiwan and Jamaica – featuring sets from each group and a joint jam session.

“We have found that as diverse as NYC is, many people still feel more comfortable within their own niches and cultural bubbles,” says Shumays. “We burst those bubbles spectacularly through our Global Mashups world music series!”

At the recent Mashup, when saxophonist-singer-composer Stephanie Chou asked how many audience members spoke Chinese, about a quarter of the hands in the audience went up – a little less than the number of fans of Jamaican music who joined in when Tribal Legacy took the stage for a Bob Marley cover.

Flushing Town Hall has figured out how to build the programming it needs – and how to compel its audiences to not just show up, but dive in.

This wouldn’t be a #NYSCASuccess story if we didn’t share: how do they do it?

At Flushing Town Hall, the Chinese Cultural Committee, made up of local residents, artists, and business leaders, advises on programming and contributes to multilingual outreach. FTH also advertises in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and Urdu to ensure that language is not a barrier to attendance.

Recognizing that its local audiences – especially young audiences – have modest incomes, low-price tickets are often available, and teens always get in free.

Encouraging not just attendance but active engagement with the venue, the organization has significantly increased participatory and educational programs in recent years under the artistic direction of Ellen Kodadek.

“We believe deeply that the arts are for everyone, and that (active) participation in the arts is an essential part of the experience,” Shamuys said.

Calligraphy Workshop at Flushing Town Hall, 2014. Photo by Shawn Choi.

It’s a core part of the FTH mission to expand arts appreciation and awareness through these programs, but it also pays off – workshops have made it easier for families to attend other weekend programs, and visitors who attend jazz jams form the core of the audience for jazz concerts, too.

Participatory and otherwise, every program on Flushing Town Hall’s schedule is the result of in-depth research. A five-person programming team draws on firsthand knowledge, research into NYC and international artists, attendance at international booking conferences and festivals such as International Performing Arts for Youth (IPAY) and Le Trois Jours de Castelliers in Montreal, and networks such as the New York State Presenters Network.

Flushing Town Hall’s staff includes a trained folklorist with deep experience working with Latinx and Native American artists and communities and a long-time practicing musician in the NY jazz scene, and staff members devoted to the venue’s Cultural Committee.

Over years devoted to global arts events, the programming team has developed contacts that can offer recommendations and serve as experts in particular cultures.

“Every cultural tradition has its own standards, gatekeepers, and masters – and some knowledge of that landscape is necessary in order to make informed decisions as to which artists will best represent a particular culture, and which will most connect with local audiences,” says Shumays.

“Audiences can tell when programming decisions are superficial versus when they are based in a deep appreciation and respect for cultures and traditions – therefore, cultivating that depth on an organization’s programming team is essential.”

The good news, he adds, is that it can be learned.

“There is also no substitute for a deep curiosity about other cultures – go out and explore and learn as voraciously as you can!” he says.

You can start by checking out a Flushing Town Hall Global Mashup, Japan Meets Puerto Rico, on Queens Public Television. For more information about the program and Flushing Town Hall, visit

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees announce new leadership and a celebrity-led Poetry Walk, and an incubator of Tony-nominated talent gets its due.

The Birthplace of All Four 2017 Best Play Tony Nominees


“The New Dramatists honored [Paula] Vogel alongside ten-time Tony-winning producer Daryl Roth (who produced Vogel’s Indecent) for their outstanding contribution to theatre [at its annual luncheon.] Dedicated to the nurturing of promising playwrights, New Dramatists provides time, space, staff and financial resources to develop new work—and it’s paying off. All four of this year’s Best Play Tony nominees—Lynn Nottage for Sweat, Lucas Hnath for A Doll’s House, Part 2, J.T. Rogers for Oslo, and Vogel for Indecent—are alumni of New Dramatists…The institution is the birthplace of the careers of a multitude of playwrights because it serves as an ‘incubator’ of talent, as Hnath called it… ‘It’s an organization built to make us the leaders of our own artistic process,’ said Hnath. Added Rogers, ‘It really is the mothership of American playwriting.’ NYSCA supports New Dramatists through our Theatre Program.

Bill Murray to lead annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge


“Bill Murray and the Brooklyn Bridge: Two New York City icons, united by poetry. The 66-year-old actor will lead the annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge on June 12, which raises funds for Poets House, it was announced Monday. It’s an event Murray has rarely missed. ‘Bill came to us through [Poets House vice president] Frank Platt — they were neighbors,’ Poets House executive director Lee Briccetti told amNewYork on Monday…Briccetti said after the first pilgrimage across the bridge in 1996 the event became ‘an instant tradition.’ The walk, during which poetry is read under the bridge’s archways, is ‘incredibly powerful; reading poems about New York City in the very places they’re set,’ Briccetti said. Participation in the walk costs $250 and includes a dinner at 26 Bridge. Murray, who donated seed money for the Poets House library in the ’90s, will be among the honorees at the dinner. Poets House, now in its 30th year and based in Battery Park City, boasts a 70,000-volume library of poetry and last year saw 80,000 visitors walk through its doors.” NYSCA supports Poets House through our Literature Program.

Albany Symphony appoints new executive director

Albany Times-Union

“The Albany Symphony announced Friday morning that Anna Kuwabara, currently vice president for orchestra operations and facilities at the St Louis Symphony Orchestra, has been appointed executive director. The appointment, which takes effect July 3, will end more than two years without an executive director. The last, Lawrence J. Fried, left in early 2015 after only nine months in that position. In a statement, music director and conductor David Alan Miller praised Kuwabara’s ‘experience and her keen intelligence.’ Kuwabara, in turn, said she had been struck over the years ‘by the creativity and innovation’ of the Symphony and Miller and by local audiences who ‘are willing to be curious and open to what is new and different.’ Besides her work with the St. Louis Symphony, Kuwabara has also held administrative positions at the Harvard Business School, the Longy School of Music and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.” NYSCA supports the Albany Symphony through our Music Program and Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

Glimmerglass picks Owens as artistic adviser

Rome Sentinel

“The Glimmerglass Festival has appointed acclaimed bass-baritone Eric Owens as artistic adviser. As Artistic Advisor, Owens will consult closely with Artistic & General Director Francesca Zambello and Music Director Joseph Colaneri on matters of Festival repertoire and casting and will serve as an ambassador for the company, which offers new productions of opera and musical theater, as well as concerts, lectures, a youth opera and more. He will perform roles on the mainstage during the 2018 and 2019 seasons.Known for his roles of both classic works and new music, Owens’s international career has brought him to major opera houses around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Washington National Opera and LA Opera to Royal Opera Covent Garden, English National Opera and more. Owens…served as the company’s 2012 and 2015 Artist in Residence, coaching and mentoring members of the Young Artists Program, the company’s apprenticeship for rising artists. Owens also serves as Chair of the company’s Artistic Advisory Board…In addition to his busy performance schedule, Owens has worked with young artists at the Merola Opera Program and Washington National Opera’s Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program.  He also serves as a community ambassador at Lyric Opera of Chicago and on the Board of Trustees of both The Crossing Choir in Philadelphia and the Curtis Institute of Music.” NYSCA supports Glimmerglass through our Music Program.

A Museum Let 6 Awesome GIF Artists Decorate Their Elevators


“GIFs could become the new elevator music, thanks to an experimental installation at the Museum of the Moving Image. The GIF Elevator offers six top-tier animators and media artists the chance to install their work in the enclosed spaces between floors. New four-panel works by Lorna Mills, Mr. Div (Matt DiVito), Dain Fagerholm, Render Fruit (Clara Luzian), Paul Robertson, and Rafia Santana will plunge visitors into the worlds they’ve built over the years of GIF experimentation. Mill’s Yellowwhirlaway will inaugurate the series, running in the Astoria, Queens art museum from June 1 through July 30…This isn’t The Museum of the Moving Image’s first foray into GIF art. In 2012 they exhibited We Tripped El Hadji Diouf: The Story of a Photoshop Thread, which preserved, “One of the Web’s most ‘epic’ Photoshop threads,” depicting a Senegalese soccer player’s wipeout as if caused by Sub-Zero from Mortal Kombat. They’ve also exhibited work by Evan Roth and had shows devoted to reaction GIFs and cat GIFs.” Museum of the Moving Image curator Jason Eppink: “The GIF is now an important site of cultural and artistic expression; an established and pervasive form defined in part by silence, brevity, shareability, and most importantly, the loop. The participating artists in this series of installations represent some of the most important and influential GIF makers today.” NYSCA supports the Museum of Moving Image through our Museum and Electronic Media & Film Programs.

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees demonstrate how art can be a powerful tool for addressing social issues and celebrate icons ranging from Michelangelo to Billie Holiday.

In The Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Teens Speak Up By Singing Out


“The Brooklyn Youth Chorus is not your typical kids’ choir, singing folk-song arrangements and show tunes. It’s made up of over 600 kids, from second grade to the end of high school, from struggling neighborhoods to New York’s elite. Part of its mission is to give the kids a sense of purpose at a difficult time in life. The group has just released its first album, Black Mountain Songs, and is giving two high-profile concerts Friday and Saturday. Dianne Berkun Menaker founded the Brooklyn Youth Chorus 25 years ago, and she wants the kids to connect to the music they sing. So, she’s commissioned music from such rock musicians as Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry and The National’s Bryce Dessner…But for the concerts this weekend, Burkun Menaker wanted to give voice to her teenagers and their concerns. She asked her young singers what kinds of things they wanted to tackle musically in Silent Voices, the program they’re presenting this weekend at the Brooklyn Academy of Music — the topics that mattered to them as a racially, economically and culturally diverse group that comes from all over the city.” In response to the singers’ answers, commissions from composers such as Shara Nova will address topics such as race, gender, sexuality and ageism. NYSCA supports the Brooklyn Youth Chorus through our Arts Education Program.

Julia Bottoms-Douglas combats stereotypes with stark portraits

Buffalo News

“In October of 2015, a few dozen Buffalo artists and curators huddled in the community room of Buffalo Arts Studio to discuss diversity and elitism in the art world. Most panel discussions on these topics are preach-to-the-choir affairs that rarely produce concrete action. This one was different. Buffalo Arts Studio curator Shirley Verrico and director Alma Carrillo gathered actionable intelligence at that meeting. They asked themselves what more they could do to grow their circle. And last year, they launched a multi-year collaboration with the progressive advocacy group Open Buffalo to highlight and fund the work of emerging local artists from underrepresented communities. The first results of that project, a series of remarkable oil portraits of black men, women and children by painter Julia Bottoms-Douglas, are now on view in Buffalo Arts Studio’s fifth-floor space in the Trimain Building. They are a testament to the untapped talent of Buffalo’s arts community and the power of a small organization to confront a seemingly intractable problem…The show, “Tinted: A Visual Statement on Color, Identity and Representation,” is a bravura attempt to combat the stereotypical images of black bodies that saturate the media landscape.” NYSCA supports the Buffalo Arts Studio through our Visual Arts, Special Arts Services and Facilities Programs.

Seneca Falls Canal Fest Secures Glass Barge

Seneca Daily

“The Corning Museum of Glass (CMoG) will bring its GlassBarge to this year’s Canal Fest. This all-new, world-class performance venue brings floating Hot Glass Demos to the Museum’s New York State neighbors along the Erie Canal and its connected waterways. The 2nd Annual Seneca Falls Canal Fest will be held July 7th through the 9th on both sides of the Seneca Falls Canal Harbor. In Seneca Falls, The CMoG will pay tribute to the role of women in New York State who shaped our nation. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in New York State, GlassBarge will deploy an all-female glassblowing team to the Seneca Falls Canal Fest. Along with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, The CMoG will take the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the artistry and skill of women glassmakers, who make up more than 50 percent of the glassmakers at the Museum.” NYSCA supports CMoG’s GlassBarge through our Regional Economic Development Council Program as part of our Erie Canal Bicentennial focus are, and also provides general support to CMoG through our Museum

The Met Museum Announces A ‘Once-In-A-Lifetime’ Michelangelo Exhibit


“Calling it a ‘once-in-a-lifetime exhibition,’ the Metropolitan Museum of Art just announced a late 2017 show of Michelangelo’s sketches and his ‘powerful imagery and dazzling technical virtuosity.’ Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer will run from November 13th through February 12th, 2018, and will feature 150 of the Renaissance master’s drawings, as well as three marble sculptures. The exhibit will include ‘his earliest painting, his wood architectural model for a chapel vault, the complete series of masterpiece drawings he created for his friend Tommaso de’Cavalieri and a monumental cartoon for his last fresco in the Vatican Palace.’ According to the press release, the pieces were ‘selected from 54 public and private collections in the United States and Europe, [and] the exhibition will examine Michelangelo’s rich legacy as a supreme draftsman and designer.’” NYSCA supports the Metropolitan Museum through our Museum and Presenting Programs.

Jazz Legend Billie Holiday to be Honored at One-Night-Only Apollo Show


“It’s showtime for Lady Day. The famed Apollo Theater will host a one-night-only concert spectacular honoring jazz legend Billie Holiday on May 16. The event will showcase 10 different acts, including singers and dancers, who will cover to the iconic singer’s discography, the theater said. Holiday got her start in Harlem and performed at the iconic theater at age 19, before she was propelled into stardom, according to The New York Times. The event will be hosted by radio and television personality Bevy Smith. The performers include jazz singer Lizz Wright, singer-songwriter Ruthie Foster, singer Bettye LaVette, among many others. The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater will perform an updated piece, called “Portrait of Billie,” which originally premiered in 1959.” NYSCA supports the Apollo Theater through our Music, Presenting, and Regional Economic Development Council Programs and Alvin Ailey through our Dance, Special Arts Services and Facilities Programs.

Drama League Launches First-Ever Summer Professional Theatre Intensive


“The Drama League has announced the launch of its first-ever pre-professional training program for college-aged actors and directors. The week-long workshop will employ Broadway and Off-Broadway teaching artists, who will help prepare aspiring young actors and directors for a career in the theatre industry. The workshop will be held at The Drama League Center in New York City, as well as at Stump Sprouts Retreat Center in Hawley, Massachusetts. The program will kick off with a Professional Industry Day in New York City, which will consist of panels and seminars with professional artists and producers, before taking in a Broadway or Off-Broadway performance. The following day, students will head to Hawley. During the private retreat, participants will take part in Master Workshops including Classic Text Approaches, and The Audition Room (From Both Sides of the Table), as well as classes specific to the actor and director programs. At the conclusion of the week, students will apply the techniques and approaches learned to rehearse and stage site-specific scenes of classic theatre.” NYSCA supports the Drama League through our Theatre Program.

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees celebrate Tony Award nominations and share news of fundraising success for a new museum and a literary festival lineup.

Explore & More Children’s Museum gets $1 million donation

The Buffalo News

“The children’s museum coming to Canalside moved $1 million closer to its fundraising goal Tuesday. The New Era Cap Foundation, Buffalo Bills Foundation and Buffalo Sabres Foundation are giving a $1 million donation to Explore & More Children’s Museum to help construct the Playing Together educational play zone, which will be a prime attraction when the new museum opens. The opening is scheduled for late 2018…The gift comes on top of a previously announced $1 million contribution from Delaware North to fund an exhibit that will expand and enhance educational play experience, encouraging movement, exercise, and healthy living.” NYSCA supports Explore & More through our Museum, Regional Economic Development Council, and Folk Arts Programs.

2017 Tony Awards Nominees


The 2017 Tony Awards will air on Sunday, June 11th at 8/7c on CBS. “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet Of 1812” leads the field with 12 nominations, including Best Musical. “Natasha, Pierre” was commissioned by NYSCA grantee Ars Nova. Transfers from off-Broadway grantees also include Best Play nominees “Indecent,” which ran at the Vineyard Theatre, and “Sweat,” which played the Public Theater. “Dear Evan Hansen,” which received 9 nominations, including Best Musical, ran off-Broadway at NYSCA grantee Second Stage Theatre. NYSCA grantees receiving nominations for multiple productions include Lincoln Center Theater for “Oslo” and the revivals of “Six Degrees of Separation” and “Falsettos,” Manhattan Theatre Club for “The Little Foxes” and “Heisenberg,” and the Roundabout Theatre Company for “The Price” and “Holiday Inn.”

200+ Free Art Books Are Now Available to Download from the Guggenheim


“A veritable art history degree’s worth of books digitized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum are now available for free. There’s Wassily Kandinsky’s 1946 treatise, On the Spiritual in Art; books about movements from the Italian metamorphosis and Russian Constructivism; thousands of years of Aztec and Chinese art; and catalogs of work by the many greats to pass through the Guggenheim’s Frank Lloyd Wright-designed halls. Formerly locked in paper prisons (a.k.a., hard-copy books), analysis of work by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Dan Flavin, Robert Rauschenberg, Gustav Klimt, Mark Rothko, and more is now free to roam the web as PDFs and ePubs. The initiative to publish certain entries from The Guggenheim’s vast library began with 65 catalogs published in 2012, and has now grown to 205 titles.” NYSCA supports the Guggenheim through our Museum and Electronic Media & Film Programs.

Celebrate 50 Years of the Brooklyn Arts Council at “Alive With Art”


“On May 18, the Brooklyn Arts Council will host ‘Alive With Art’, an event that will honor three community members who have supported cultural growth in Brooklyn. The honorees this year are Dr. Thomas F. Schutte, chairman of BAC’s board and president of the Pratt Institute; Futura, an influential graffiti and commercial artist whose work is featured around the borough; and Alloy Development, the Brooklyn-based firm behind the Brooklyn Children Museum’s Dumbo annex and The 2,000 Gallon Project, which brought trees to the streets of Gowanus. The 50th anniversary gala will take place at The William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg. Installed in the lobby of the hotel is Mannahatta – a site-specific artwork by Marela Zacarias. The Brooklyn Arts Council’s Arts Consultancy program helped to facilitate the lobby commission.” NYSCA supports the Brooklyn Arts Council through our State & Local Partnership and Folk Arts Programs.

Spring Writes festival features 35 literary events around Ithaca

The Ithaca Journal

“The eighth annual Spring Writes Literary Festival returns to Ithaca Thursday-Sunday, offering 35 events that feature more than 90 writers at 10 locations around downtown Ithaca. Presented by the Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County, the event aims to shine a light on local literary talent…Spring Writes will feature a variety of panels, readings, workshops, films, play readings and more. Participating downtown Ithaca venues include Buffalo Street Books, Bar Argos, The Community School of Music and Arts, Lot 10 Lounge, Cinemapolis, the Tompkins County Public Library, the Community Arts Partnership ArtSpace, the History Center and the Range. The festival kicks off on Thursday night with ‘Trampoline Presents: A Night of Competitive Storytelling’ and ends on Sunday evening with a Literary Murder Mystery Cocktail Party. In between are 15 readings, four workshops, six panel discussions, one play reading, two presentations, five performances, one film screening, one letter-press demonstration and one bookbinding demonstration.” NYSCA provides general support and regrant funding to CAP through our State & Local Partnership (SLP) Program and support for Spring Writes through our Literature Program. NYSCA also supports the Community School of Music and Arts through our SLP Program and and Cinemapolis through our Electronic Media & Film Program.

Spectacular light show will illuminate Kleinhans during Wagner’s ‘Ring’

The Buffalo News

“Forget hackneyed cartoons about horned helmets. Buffalo is about to see Richard Wagner’s ‘Ring’ in a new light. Literally. On May 6 and 7, orchestral excerpts from the four operas that make up the cycle ‘The Ring of the Nibelungs’ will pour out to the accompaniment of light-mapping, a spectacular kind of light show that beams over the entire hall. The lights are the creation of Projex, a Buffalo team known for experimental visuals. The light mapping will engulf the hall between musical excerpts. As the audience absorbs the images, the story will be told by a narrator, Dough Zschieger. The narration was written by JoAnn Falletta, the BPO’s music director.” Presenting visuals throughout the hall instead of on a screen will preserve the orchestra’s sound, and the images will show “21st century” versions of Wagner’s gods. Falletta sees the concert as a great approach to audiences new to Wagner and his four-opera epic. NYSCA supports the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra through our Music Program.

NYSCA Chair Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel among cultural and civic leaders honored by Purchase College

NYSCA Chair Dr. Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel



Purchase, NY, May 2, 2017: Purchase College-SUNY will hold its 45th annual commencement ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY.

Degrees will be conferred upon nearly 1,100 graduating scholars and artists representing dozens of majors and several countries. The graduates will be joined by thousands of family members, friends, college faculty, and staff members who will come together to celebrate their achievements. The day will also feature the lively music of Purchase faculty member Joe Ferry and the Big Ska Band, creating a festive experience in keeping with the school’s unique culture.

As a center for creative growth and academic excellence, Purchase marks the annual event by honoring dynamic leaders from various fields. This year’s SUNY honorary degree recipients include men and women who have made significant contributions to cultural and civic life in New York, including Former Mayor David N. Dinkins, Pulitzer Prize-winning art critic for The New York Times Holland Cotter, and cultural leader Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel.

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Regina Spektor (’01) will receive the President’s Award for Distinguished Alumni. While Spektor will attend the event, she will not be performing. Cody La Vada, a multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and educator on transgender and LGBTQ issues, will offer remarks on behalf of the senior class.

Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz said, “Though many look at graduation as an end, the word commencement itself refers to a beginning. I have no doubt that this year’s graduating class will continue in the Purchase tradition of Thinking Wide Open as they forge new pathways in the liberal arts, humanities, natural and social sciences, and performing and visual arts.”

About the Honorees

David N. Dinkins was elected the 106th mayor of the City of New York in 1989. As the first, and only, African American Mayor of NYC, he was dedicated to changing the lives of minorities and underserved communities through his work to increase housing for the homeless and mentally ill, address the city’s drug and AIDS crises, and help rebuild communities in Harlem, the South Bronx, and Brooklyn. Mayor Dinkins joined Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) as a Professor in the Practice of Urban Public Policy in 1994.

Holland Cotter is co-chief art critic of The New York Times, where he has been on staff since 1998. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2009. He writes about a wide range of art, and has made extended trips to Africa and China for The Times. Well known for criticism that mixes personal, political, and cultural insights, he is being honored for outstanding contributions to the cultural conversation happening today. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has degrees from Harvard College, Columbia University, and the City University of New York.

Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel is an author, preservationist, civic activist, curator, and television producer. For more than 50 years, she has served the City of New York, New York State, and several presidential administrations in order to expand cultural and historical offerings and resources to a wider audience. Her leadership roles have included director of the New York City Office of Cultural Affairs, founding Director of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and founding director of the Highline. She is the founder/chair of the NYC Landmarks50+ Alliance, comprising 187 civic organizations; and the author of 23 books and numerous articles. She is the longest serving member of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and, as Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center, she created the Cultural Medallion program. In 2016, Governor Cuomo appointed her Chair of the New York State Council on the Arts.

Regina Spektor was born in Moscow and emigrated to New York City at the age of nine. She attended the Conservatory of Music at Purchase College where she studied studio composition and graduated cum laude with a bachelor of music. Her first album was self-published while a senior at Purchase. She went on to release several other albums including 2006’s Begin to Hope, which went Gold, and her most recent album, the acclaimed Remember Us to Life. Her songs have been featured on shows such as Grey’s Anatomy and Orange is the New Black, including the Grammy nominated “You’ve Got Time.”

About Purchase CollegeSUNY

Purchase College, part of the State University of New York (SUNY) network of 64 universities and colleges, was founded in 1967 by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. His aspiration for Purchase was to create a dynamic campus that combined conservatory training in the visual and performing arts with programs in the liberal arts and sciences, in order to inspire an appreciation for both intellectual and artistic talents in all students. Today, Purchase College–SUNY is a community of students, faculty, and friends where open-minded engagement with the creative process leads to a lifetime of intellectual growth and professional opportunity. For more information about the College, visit


Erie Canal Bicentennial Events Calendar

This spring and summer, take a trip along New York State’s waterways — and enjoy unique cultural events — in celebration of the historic Erie Canal Bicentennial. In first-time interagency collaboration between NYSCA and the New York State Canal Corporation, Regional Economic Development Council funding has been provided for a wide range of arts activities from the Canal Corridor to the Hudson River, Champlain Canal and New York Harbor.

View the listings below or on our events calendar for information on the Albany Symphony Orchestra’s free waterfront performances, the Corning Museum of Glass’ floating GlassBarge, and  much more. These will be updated continuously as new events are announced.

April 2017

Erie Canal Program

Oyster Bay Historical Society
April 30 at 2pm

The film “Boom and Bust: America’s Journey on the Erie Canal,” tells the story of industrial expansion and decline along the Erie Canal, while creatively meditating on economic cycles and the American Dream. A panel discussion will follow, featuring producers and folklorists Steve Zeitlin and Dan Ward, and Steve Wunder, a retired canal barge boat captain.

May 2017
Maritime Folk Arts of Long Island and the Hudson River

Oyster Bay Historical Society
May 6 at 1pm

Explore boat building and songs of work and play with boat builder and model maker Chris Hale, Rocking the Boat, a volunteer youth program based in the Bronx, and folksong singers Stephen Sanfilippo and Stuart Markus. The program is free and suitable for families and children.

Erie Canal Museum: The Erie Canal: A Pathway for Poetry Workshop with Ellen Agnew

May 6 and June 3 from 10am – 1pm

This two-session workshop will provide an introduction to five different forms of poetry and strategies for composing poetry, as well as an opportunity to write and share poems inspired by various perspective of the Erie Canal, past and present. This workshop is limited to 20 participants.

June 2017

GlassBarge at Fairport Canal Days

June 2 – 4, 4:30pm to 5pm

The Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge – a mobile hot shop that will float along the canal – makes its maiden voyage at Fairport Canal Days. One of the most popular arts festivals in New York State, Fairport Canal Days attracts more than 200 artisans, many fine food vendors, great live music, and upwards of 200,000 visitors.

Erie Canal Museum: Reflecting with Song: Music Workshop with Dave Ruch

June 15 from 7pm – 10pm at the Syracuse Suds Factory

This workshop with musician and canal music researcher Dave Ruch (, with Dick Ford of Signature Music, will introduce songs and instrumental pieces from canal days, passing along to area musicians some truly regional folk music while inviting reflections and comparisons with their current repertory. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.


July 2017

Albany Symphony Orchestra: Water Music NY

Various venues, Albany to Lockport

July 2-8, 8-9:30pm

Water Music NY is a week-long journey from Albany to Lockport along the Erie Canal featuring free waterfront performances, including newly commissioned works celebrating the unique history and heritage of 7 canal communities. Participating partners include the Empire State Youth Orchestra, Skidmore College Storytellers’ Institute, Capital Repertory Theatre, Mohawk Valley Choral Society, Syracuse Pops Chorus, Golden Eagle String Band, choreographer/dancers Eddie Murphy and Mariah Mahoney; composers include Daniel Schlossberg, Annika Socolofsky, Angelica Negron, Benjamin Wallace, Ryan Chase, Loren Loiacono, and Christopher Rogerson.

GlassBarge at Seneca Falls Canal Fest

July 7 – 9, 5pm to 8pm

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in New York State, GlassBarge will deploy an all-female glassblowing team to the Seneca Falls Canal Fest. Along with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame, CMoG will celebrate the role of women in the shaping of our nation.

Erie Canal Museum: Reflecting on the Historic Erie Canal Photography Workshop with Willson Cummer

July 15 from 10am – 2pm

In this workshop, participants will explore the area of downtown Syracuse that was once occupied by the Erie Canal and utilize their cameras to create their own visions of history. The workshop will include an introduction to basic photography and end with a supportive critique. This workshop is limited to 10 participants.

Honor America Days Erie Canal Bicentennial Celebration

July 22 from 12pm – 9:30pm

The Rome Chamber of Commerce, Rome Main Streets Alliance, and the City of Rome, present a Celebration of the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal. Music, Entertainment, Arts Show, Antique Show, Children’s Activities and Fireworks!

Erie Canal Museum: Collecting Reflections Storytelling Workshop with Sean Kirst

July 29 from 11am – 2pm

Participants learn spoken word storytelling techniques based on their impressions of the Erie Canal’s history, impact, and relevance to their lives built around one famous incident in Canal history; and develop creative ideas for spoken word tales that build on these impressions. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.


September 2017

SS Columbia Project: Hudson River Stories

September 8-10, Waterford

Hudson River Stories is a traveling arts and culture celebration of boats, cargo, people and ideas, and how they all came together to influence the region’s river, canals and ports. The exhibit will be housed aboard the historic covered barge Pennsylvania Railroad No. 399 and will travel along the Hudson River.

Erie Canal Museum: Drawing from History, Painting Erie’s Landscape Workshop with Reina Apraez

September 13 from 5pm – 8pm

This is a landscape drawing and painting workshop in structure, but it is an opportunity to inform oneself of the possibilities that exist in our changing City through creativity and experimentation. This is a workshop for all levels, and a great opportunity for young artists to develop portfolio pieces. This workshop is limited to 15 participants.

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees announce a major gift, expand to better serve their audiences, and offer new and timely programming.

Famed pop artist Marisol leaves vast estate to the Albright-Knox

Buffalo News

“The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s lucky streak continued Wednesday with the announcement of another major gift that will reshape the institution for future generations. Less than a year after the gallery received the largest single financial donation in its history, officials announced that the gallery has received its largest single donation of art: The vast and lucrative estate of pop artist and Buffalo favorite Marisol, who died last April. The estate includes more than 100 sculptures, some 150 works on paper, thousands of photographs and the artist’s New York City loft apartment. The impending sale of that apartment, worth an estimated $4 million to $5 million, will bolster the gallery’s operating endowment as it heads into its first major expansion in more than 50 years…In honor of the artist and her gift, a gallery in the soon-to-be-built Buffalo Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum will be named after Marisol and will feature her work. The gallery has long maintained a close relationship with Marisol Escobar, who was born in Paris, raised in Venezuela and built her career in the United States. The Albright-Knox was the first museum to acquire her work — the popular sculptures ‘The Generals’ and ‘Baby Girl’ in 1962 and 1964 — and kept close tabs on the artist over the decades… The prolific and enigmatic artist was among a group championed by gallery’s patron and namesake Seymour H. Knox Jr., who developed similar relationships with Clyfford Still, Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock and many others.” NYSCA supports the Albright-Knox Art Gallery through our Museum and Regional Economic Development Council Programs.

So many NYC museums are expanding right now

New York Post

“New York’s museums are on a building tear, hiring A-list architects, cajoling zoning boards, pursuing donations and adding dazzling new features… ‘There’s tremendous pressure on museums to serve their growing population, to expand exhibits and to update them with new technology,’ says Kathryn S. Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City. With the city predicting more than 60 million tourists this year, she adds ‘it’s a time of great opportunity and challenge.’ Despite significant hurdles like acquiring building permits, and the exorbitant cost of land and construction, Wylde says, ‘the fact that so many institutions are moving forward with fundraising efforts and looking for public funding support indicates that they see an opportunity.’” NYSCA grantees featured include the Studio Museum in Harlem, the New-York Historical Society, the New Museum, the American Museum of Natural History, the Tenement Museum, and the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

Nitrate Picture Show at George Eastman Museum always a hot ticket

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

“Hollywood movies were made on nitrate film stock from the earliest days before the turn of the last century until 1951 — and it turned out to be a definitive good news-bad news scenario. Here’s the good news: Films made on nitrate are gorgeous; no stock since has enabled filmmakers to generate such beautiful images, with amazing delineation of the various shades of gray, and the richest possible blacks and whites (and eventually color). Here’s the bad news: Nitrate stock is extremely flammable, decomposes after several decades into a no-less flammable gas (leaving the film sticky and goo-like), and ultimately degenerating into dust…Few places in the world are adequately established to project nitrate classics in relative safety — and the George Eastman Museum is just such a place. Accordingly, the GEM next week is hosting its third annual Nitrate Picture Show, a weekend devoted to lectures, demonstrations, and, most notable, the screening of rare nitrate feature films.” Films to be screened will be announced on the Eastman Museum website on Friday, May 5. NYSCA supports the George Eastman Museum through our Museum and Electronic Media & Film Programs.

New York City Ballet Celebrates the Future of Ballet


“New York City Ballet’s 2017 spring season is underway, and starting today, it will present a four-week festival celebrating works created for the company over the past 25 years. The Here/Now Festival features 43 ballets from 22 choreographers organized into ten different programs with three of them dedicated to the works of individual choreographers: Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky and Christopher Wheeldon. The will also be two world premieres, one by Ratmansky and the other by Peck. ‘It wants to show that it’s a company that’s not just about the past, it’s also about the present, and the future of ballet,’ said Marina Harss who reports on dance for the New Yorker and the New York Times. She spoke with WNYC’s Richard Hake.” NYSCA supports New York City Ballet through our Dance and Individual Artist Programs.

Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘Between the World and Me’ Is Coming to the Apollo

New York Times

“ ‘Between the World and Me,’ Ta-Nehisi Coates’s award-winning book exploring racial injustice in America, will be brought to the Apollo stage next April. Mr. Coates’s fiery work — which made him the National Book Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize finalist — will be adapted into a multimedia performance, with excerpted monologues, video projections, and a score by the jazz musician Jason Moran. Portions of Mr. Coates’s letters to his son would be read aloud, while narratives of his experiences at Howard University and in New York City could be performed by actors. Kamilah Forbes, the Apollo’s executive producer, will direct the production. The coming Apollo season will be Ms. Forbes’s first full season in the role; she previously was the associate director of ‘ [A] Raisin in the Sun’ on Broadway…The Apollo’s coming season, which was announced on Wednesday, will also include ‘We Shall Not Be Moved,’ a genre-crossing opera directed by Bill T. Jones inspired by a 1985 standoff between police and the black liberation group MOVE in Philadelphia, running Oct. 6-7. The Breakin’ Convention, a hip-hop dance festival, will return Oct. 27-29. And of course, Amateur Night will continue every Wednesday. A full schedule can be found at” NYSCA supports the Apollo through our Music, Presenting, and Regional Economic Development Council Programs.

New York Opera Fest brings inventive music to bars, gardens and garages in NYC

Time Out New York

“NYC’s opera scene is at its most open and inviting in decades, and nobody seems as anxious to tear down the imaginary walls keeping novices out of the halls as the New York Opera Festival. Now in its second year, the fest isn’t even stopping at the halls, as it brings productions to playgrounds and bars, a neighborhood garden and a converted garage. Through June 23, 20 companies in will stage 28 different productions throughout the city, and usually on the cheap. There will nearly be a soprano in distress on every street corner.” Participating NYSCA grantees include Bronx Opera, Opera on Tap, On Site Opera, Encompass New Opera Theatre, Martina Arroyo Foundation, and American Opera Projects.

Annie Baker’s The Antipodes Extends for Fourth Time


“The world premiere of The Antipodes, the new play by Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Baker with direction by Lila Neugebauer, extends for the fourth time. Baker’s newest work, which is set in a writers’ room for an ambitious television project, opened to positive reviews on April 23. The production began performances April 4, and will now play through June 11. Performances take place in The Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center, located at 480 West 42nd Street, New York. The cast is made up of Phillip James Brannon (Tiny Beautiful Things), Josh Charles (The Good Wife), Josh Hamilton (Madam Secretary), Danny Mastrogiorgio (Gotham), Danny McCarthy (Prison Break), Emily Cass McDonnell (Mercury Fur), Brian Miskell (The Flick), Will Patton (Fool For Love), and Nicole Rodenburg (Venus in Fur). Similarly to Baker’s earlier play John, of which very little was revealed in Signature Theatre [production] notes, the description for The Antipodes reads simply: ‘A play about people telling stories about telling stories.’” NYSCA supports the Signature Theatre through our Theatre and Individual Artist Programs.

Soho Rep. to Return to Former Home After Being Forced to Vacate


“Soho Rep. has announced that it will return to its previous long-time home at 46 Walker Street in New York. The experimental theatre company had been operating out of the [Tribeca] space for 25 years when, last November, it was forced to abruptly leave after inadvertently defying the building’s regulations. The company learned that the space did not permit more than 70 people in the venue, and also had previously unknown, strict scenic restrictions, prompting them to vacate immediately. With help from the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the cooperation of the Department of Buildings, Soho Rep. is now pursuing renovations at 46 Walker Street that will allow the company to legally present its 2018 season there. The organization is finalizing a lease extension through 2022, and a search for a more permanent home is currently underway.” NYSCA supports Soho Rep through our Theatre Program.

Goat Statues Fill Socrates Sculpture Park for New Summer Exhibit


“Nearly 20 goat statues are being placed throughout Socrates Sculpture Park for an exhibit opening this weekend by artist Nari Ward — the first single-artist show the waterfront site has ever displayed…’Nari Ward: G.O.A.T., again’ will be on view starting Saturday, and consists of six commissioned pieces created by Ward, including a flock of 19 goat statues cast from lawn ornaments and set across the 5-acre park. The title of the exhibit refers to the acronym for ‘Greatest of All Time,’ a nod to boxing legend Mohammad Ali and L.L. Cool J’s 2000 album. It also ‘alludes to the African-American experience and political theater,’ according to organizers. ‘The figure of the goat features prominently in Ward’s articulation of social dynamics, conjuring the animal’s attributes and symbolic connotations, from an ambitious climber of great heights to an outcast,’ a press release from the park reads.” NYSCA supports Socrates Sculpture Park through our Visual Arts, Arts Education and Regional Economic Development Council Programs.

Women in NY Culture: The National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

Courtesy of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

This year, NYSCA honors the New York State Women’s Suffrage Centennial. Through our Regional Economic Development Council Program, we have provided FY2017 grants to organizations who are commemorating the occasion through their programs. In addition, on this blog, we will regularly pay tribute to grantees who honor the Centennial and showcase the impact of women in New York State arts and culture.

For our first Women in NY Culture feature, we spoke with Deborah L. Hughes, President & CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House in Rochester. A National Historic Landmark, the Susan B. Anthony House was the home of the legendary American women’s rights leader during the most politically active period of her life. A group of Rochester women purchased the house in 1945 to be a permanent memorial to Anthony and the cause of women’s rights. NYSCA supports the Susan B. Anthony Museum through our Museum Program. This year, the organization also received funding through our REDC program for VoteTilla, a boat trip down the Erie Canal with scholars, reenactors, and arts organizations in celebration of the New York State Women’s Suffrage Centennial.

NYSCA: As a pioneering women’s rights activist, Susan B. Anthony’s national impact is well known. What can we learn about her contributions to women’s rights in New York – or her experience as a New York resident – at the Susan B. Anthony House?

DH: She’s much more significant to New York history than a lot of people know.

Susan B. Anthony was born in Massachusetts and moved to Battenville, NY, when she was 6. She lived 80 of 86 years as a New Yorker. She came to Rochester in the 1840s, and she spent 40 of her most politically active years here.

First, she was active in the temperance movement. This was critically important to women who might be trapped in a marriage with a husband who was an alcoholic. Divorce was almost never possible. You could force your children to work in order to pay your husband’s bar bill. She got radicalized through the temperance movement because she went to a convention and was told that women were to be there and listen – not to be heard.

Courtesy of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

She famously said that every woman should have a purse of her own. That wasn’t a fashion statement. At that time in New York State, a married woman didn’t have property – couldn’t be on a jury, sign a contract, open bank account. Susan B. Anthony became an early advocate for marriage and property laws to enable married and single women to have choices and freedom.

She worked for the American Anti-Slavery Society and spoke in all of New York State’s counties – she did a lot of travel by horse-drawn sleigh. As a single woman in 1850s, to travel alone by sleigh took a tremendous amount of courage.

She always believed in universal suffrage regardless of race or creed or gender or origin. She believed everybody should be at the table. She felt to change society she had to have a voice and a vote. When interviewed about being in the women’s movement, she said that she had always been for the rights of everyone, but if she could improve the rights of half the population, why not start there?

Deborah L. Hughes, President & CEO of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House, Courtesy of the National Susan B. Anthony Museum & House

NYSCA: What would you consider some of the most meaningful aspects of visiting the Susan B. Anthony Museum today? Do you have any personal favorite objects in terms of stories they tell and inspiration they provide?

DH: The house is our most important object. The home is in a beautiful, city neighborhood in a National Preservation District – one of the most intact you can visit. When you look out our front door and stand on the porch, you get a great sense and feel for what she saw.

It wasn’t just a home. It was also the headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association when she was president. As visitors walk through the building, a guide explains how she was arrested in the parlor for having voted in 1872. When they get to the second floor, they learn how two bushels of mail would arrive at a time. As you move to her bedroom, where she died in 1906, you hear the amazing story of how she gave her final speech in Baltimore at 86 years of age.

What can you tell us about the upcoming VoteTilla event?

In 2008, a number of us across the state were discussing the 2020 [19th amendment] anniversary. We wanted to find a way to collaborate with organizations of very different scales.

VoteTilla will take place along the Erie Canal from July 17 – 22, 2017. The journey will start in Seneca Falls and conclude in Rochester. Three packet boats – the kind [of small passenger ship] Anthony traveled in – will be filled with about 30 re-enactors. There will be ceremonies and speeches.

Who will be a part of VoteTilla?

There will be scholars on the boat participating in panels looking at important 19th century and contemporary themes, such as racism, education, health, and broader social reform that were motivators to get everyone the right to vote.

Two boats will join us with contingents from the National Women’s Hall of Fame, Friends of the National Women’s Rights Historical Park, and the Susan B. Anthony Center at the University of Rochester. Partner organizations such as GEVA Theatre and Bristol Valley Theatre will host events along the way, and there will be side trips available to the Seward House Museum and Ganondagan.

By the time we get to Rochester we hope to pick up lots more boats – people can join us on canoes, kayaks, or motorboats. Then we’ll have a parade from Broad to West Main Street to the Susan B. Anthony House. For that we’d love 4H groups, Girl Scouts, bands – any group that wants to be a part of it.

Why have the event take place along the Erie Canal?

We knew that, particularly in 1915 and 1917, women were drawing attention to the cause through street theatre – they would take a wagon to Long Island and girls and women would get out and make speeches. We realized there was a route that already existed and it was the canal. It was wonderful for this to coincide with the canal’s Bicentennial. Here in New York State, we’re able to celebrate two ways in which we really were changing the world.


NYSCA in the News

This week, read about the recipient of a new NYSCA award, new plans for a Broadway theater, and more.

Syracuse visual artist Carrie Mae Weems wins award for contributions to NY arts

Syracuse Post-Standard

“Syracuse artist Carrie Mae Weems has won an award from [NYSCA] that recognizes her artistic contributions to the state. Weems, a visual artist who splits her time between Syracuse and Brooklyn, already has a long list of accolades, including a ‘genius grant’ fellowship from the Macarther Foundation. She can now add to her list the inaugural ‘Edward Hopper Citation of Merit,’ which is an award from the [New York State Council on the Arts]. Weems’ art uses photographs, film and video to discuss themes about race, politics and social issues. She received her first camera in 1973 and made her first video in 1982. ‘To be receiving this award in recognition of the great artist Edward Hopper, whose painted world of dark nights and lonely people were so often a home to my imagination and anchor to my own practice is a tremendous honor,’ Weems said in a statement. The award gives Weems $5,000 and $2,500 apiece to two galleries that will present Weems’ work. One gallery is the Edward Hopper House Art Center in the village of Nyack, and the other hasn’t been named.”

Rebuilding a Broadway Theater With American Voices

New York Times

Second Stage Theatre announced on Thursday that it had commissioned work from nine critically acclaimed playwrights – seven of them women, three of them African-American, and one of them Asian-American – with the intention of bringing their work to Broadway’s Helen Hayes Theatre. The commissions are part of the company’s pledge to present living American writers on New York’s most prestigious stages. “ ‘No Brits. No Chekhov translations. No classics,’ vowed Carole Rothman, the artistic director of Second Stage Theater, which acquired Broadway’s smallest theater in 2015, and is now renovating the building for reuse starting next spring.…In one early indication that the nonprofit’s acquisition of a Broadway house will be attractive to a range of artists, Ms. Rothman also announced that the movie star Chris Evans…had agreed to make his Broadway debut in the first production at the reopened theater next spring. He will perform alongside Michael Cera…in a production of ‘Lobby Hero,’ written by Kenneth Lonergan (who just won an Oscar for the screenplay of ‘Manchester By the Sea’) and directed by Trip Cullman. [Next will be] ‘Straight White Men,’ written by Young Jean Lee and directed by Anna D. Shapiro. Ms. Lee would be the first Asian-American woman to have a play produced on Broadway.” NYSCA supports Second Stage through our Theatre Program and through our Facilities Program, which provided FY2017 funding to widen the doorways for the Helen Hayes Theatre to accommodate wheelchair users.

New-York Historical Society to help green-card holders become U.S. citizens


“[The] New-York Historical Society and museum is launching a new initiative to help green-card holders become American citizens. The program will include free workshops and classes, paired with displays and a scavenger hunt at the Upper West Side museum, all linked to questions on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services naturalization test — the final hurdle to citizenship…The society’s initiative will include a new gallery with interactive displays designed around the 100 questions. It is a model that other historical societies and museums could follow to help green-card holders and educate Americans. ‘In an environment in which many legal immigrants are feeling concerned, we want to help them,’ [Louise Mirrer, the society’s president and chief executive] said. ‘We deeply believe that immigration has been the bedrock of this country from the start.’” NYSCA supports the New-York Historical Society through our Museum and Regional Economic Development Council Programs.

Audra McDonald Will Help Celebrate Ella Fitzgerald for Jazz at Lincoln Center


“Having won a 2014 Tony Award for her performance as singer Billie Holiday in the Broadway show Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, Audra McDonald is preparing to honor another great jazz performer, Ella Fitzgerald, in an April 26 concert at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. Ella at 100: Forever The First Lady of Song will feature the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra performing with McDonald and a roster of guests including Wynton Marsalis, Renée Fleming, Sullivan Fortner, Roberta Gambarini, Diana Krall, Alison Krauss, Marilyn Maye, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Camille Thurman, and Kenny Washington. Harry Connick Jr. will host. The 7PM [gala] concert will be held at Frederick P. Rose Hall, located at Broadway at 60th Street in Manhattan.” NYSCA supports Jazz at Lincoln Center through our Music Program.

Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale Will Headline Brigadoon at City Center


“Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale, who starred opposite each other in 2014’s The Bridges of Madison County, will lead a concert staging of Brigadoon at New York City Center. The production will begin with a November 15 gala honoring producer Stacey Mindich and run through November 19. Also appearing in the Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe musical will be An American in Paris Tony nominee Robert Fairchild. Christopher Wheeldon, who won a Tony for choreographing that musical, will direct and choreograph the concert staging.” NYSCA supports City Center through our Presenting, Theatre, and Dance Programs.

Ghetto Film School nurtures young filmmakers in Bronx

Fox5 NY

“The next generation of Hollywood filmmakers just may come from the Bronx. Some local students are already making movies, thanks to a special course designed to nurture their talents. When the credits roll at the New York screening of ‘Genesis,’ Kyra Peters, 18, will see ‘Director’ next to her name. Kyra is part of what is known as the Ghetto Film School, an award-winning independent film organization in the South Bronx. Part of what makes the program special is the diversity and life experience. Each cohort group shoots a project in another country. They spend 5 days on location, choosing local actors and working with pros. Some cities filmed in include Johannesburg, Shanghai, and London. Along the way, they learn roles like the director of photography, camera operator, gaffer, production designer, and more.” NYSCA supports Ghetto Film School through our Electronic Media & Film Program.

NYSCA in the News

This week, NYSCA grantees are in the news with a wide range of noteworthy projects, from an arts partnership to serve diverse communities to the debut of youth filmmakers at the Tribeca Film Festival to a celebration of the Erie Canal Bicentennial.

Arts Partnership Launched for Diverse New York City Communities

Philanthropy News Digest

“The North Carolina-based William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University have announced a $6 million initiative to explore how arts organizations can better serve diverse communities in New York City. Under the initiative, the Met and NYU will work with nineteen other arts and cultural institutions in the city to build on existing relationships within local communities, create new connections, and act as instruments of positive change. The two organizations will also document their practices and discussions as part of an effort to more broadly share lessons, outcomes, and tools with the field.” Organizations participating in the initiative include NYSCA grantees Met Museum, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Brooklyn Museum, Harlem School of the Arts, Lincoln Center, National Dance Institute, NYC SALT, Urban Word NYC, Studio Museum in Harlem, Guggenheim Museum, BAM, and Urban Arts Partnership.

Spark Media Project’s ‘Santa Woman’ to premiere at Tribeca Film Festival

Poughkeepsie Journal

“A film created by Poughkeepsie youth is making its way from the Queen City to the Big Apple. Spark Media Project’s ‘Santa Woman’ was selected from hundreds of submissions from across the country as one of the top five finalists in the Tribeca Film Institute’s ‘The America I Am’ Competition, which is presented by the Tribeca Film Institute, the National Park Service and The Statue of Liberty National Monument. It recognizes young filmmakers ‘that express unique perspectives on the American experience.’The film will be featured at the Tribeca Film Festival and receive a red carpet premiere at Ellis Island April 19…[and] was created by Poughkeepsie youth producers Anissa ‘Tori’ Isaacs and Nyah Sharrock, with mentorship from Forge Producer Ari Williams, a former student…’Santa Woman,’ which was produced in a two-week film intensive in the winter of 2016 at Spark Media, tells the story of Christine Kringel, a young black woman entering a Santa competition, and addresses issues ‘regarding stereotypes and discrimination, while also challenging the representation of young black women in film’…The Tribeca Film Institute provided youth producers a $1,000 production budget to re-shoot the film for the festival. The Spark Media youth producers worked with Stephanie Ching, their Tribeca filmmaking mentor, over the last two months ‘to increase the production value and enhance the artistry of the story.’ NYSCA supports Spark Media Project through our Electronic Media & Film, Arts Education, and Regional Economic Development Council Programs and the Tribeca Film Institute through our Arts Education and Electronic Media & Film Programs.

Astoria museum raises $40K in 30 hours to create a permanent ‘Muppets’ exhibit

“The Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI) in Astoria asked for help from the community to make an upcoming exhibit on ‘The Muppets’ creator Jim Henson a permanent part of the museum — and 30 hours, later the museum met its goal. Organizers asked for $40,000 to help restore the approximately 175 puppets that will be on display at 36-01 35th Ave. and construct the cases that will hold the puppets…The Kickstarter campaign was supposed to run through May 11 and the museum created a video with the help of Neil Patrick Harris, designer of Miss Piggy, Bonnie Erickson and museum staff that describes how Henson personally influenced them. Now, the museum has set a new goal of $100,000…[to] restore more puppets in the Museum’s Jim Henson collection. ‘The Jim Henson Exhibition’ will feature more than 40 original puppets including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Elmo, Cookie Monster, the Fraggles, and a Skeksis from ‘The Dark Crystal,’ as well as puppet prototypes, original character sketches, behind-the-scenes footage and photographs and interactive puppetry design and performance experiences. The Jim Henson Company will also loan artifacts for the exhibition.” NYSCA supports MoMI through our Museum and Electronic Media & Film Programs.

A New Exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum Explores Feminism Through The Lens of Women of Color

The Creators Project

“A new exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum is challenging the traditional feminist narrative by giving voice to women of color that were largely left out of the mainstream dialogue…We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women , 1965-85 is a group show that focuses on women of color as artists and activists during a period of social upheaval that afforded drastic changes in the art world. A time that saw many artists shift from an activist approach to social issues in the 60s and 70s to a more theoretical approach in the 80s…We Wanted a Revolution coheres around significant historical events rather than a standard artist-centric group show design, meaning that the same artist [such as Faith Ringgold] is often represented in different areas throughout the show, dependent on which movements and moments they participated in…The exhibition incorporates a variety of disciplines, from the artworks themselves to photographs, ephemera, audio, interviews, and a selection of publications from the period republished in the form of a sourcebook.” NYSCA supports the Brooklyn Museum through our Museum and Arts Education Programs.

Albany Institute marks Erie Canal’s 200th birthday

The Daily Gazette

A new exhibit at the Albany Institute of History and Art, “Spotlight: The Erie Canal,” will celebrate the canal’s history through Aug. 20. “Among the many items making up the canal exhibit is an 1850 painting by folk artist John Wilson showing the New York State Agricultural Fair from that time period located somewhere just north of Albany on land adjacent to the canal. Another painting from 1852 by William Rickerby Miller shows the Erie Canal out in Little Falls. ‘The Wilson painting was recently donated to us, and there’s only one other work known by him,’ said [art director Tammis K.] Groft. ‘We have original drawings done in 1853 as well as some wonderful images on ceramic bowls and plates…We also have a book celebrating the opening of the Erie Canal and a portrait of DeWitt Clinton.’ Groft also has a small commemorative medal celebrating the opening, as well as a larger cast stone version that may have had some practical use on the canal.” NYSCA supports the Albany Institute through our Museum and Arts Education Programs.

A wake-up call: Show uses 1,500 coffee cups to fight waste

Brooklyn Daily

“A dance performance [by the Vangeline Theater] featuring 1,500 coffee cups littered across its set will spill onto the stage of Greenpoint’s Triskelion Arts on April 20–22. The director of ‘Wake Up and Smell the Coffee’ says that it aims to confront people with the amount of waste they produce by drinking out of disposable drink vessels…The Vangeline Theater company specializes in a type of Japanese theater called butoh, an avant-garde dance form meant to startle the audience and bring them face-to-face with issues they would otherwise ignore, according to the group’s founder. [First performed in 2015, the show] features a topic that many have closed their eyes to — global climate change. Dancers will wade through a sea of coffee cups as they act out a story set a few years in the future, when global warming has become so serious that mankind is on the verge of extinction. Vangeline and her dancers collected the coffee cups from trash cans around the city, washing them in the sink before they became a part of the set.” NYSCA supports Triskelion Arts through our Dance Program and Vangeline Theater through our Special Arts Services Program.