Volume 18 • Issue 10 | July 29 - August 4, 2005

Small art groups move plans forward with new grants

By Lauren Dzura

Thirteen Downtown arts organizations have been awarded $1.7 million in grants as part of the effort to help Lower Manhattan recover after 9/11.

3-Legged-Dog, an experimental multi-media and theater group, will soon be permanently reunited with Lower Manhattan after its residence at 30 W. Broadway was destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

The group was granted $225, 000 from the Alliance for Downtown New York, the New York City Department for Cultural Affairs and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council that will go towards the building costs of their new space at 80 Greenwich St, three blocks south of the World Trade Center site. The spot, which has a 20-year lease, will house a 200-seat theater and is slated to be ready for full shows starting in January. It will produce performances by emerging and established organizations that create large-scale experimental works.

3-Legged Dog has been working out of its offices on W. 24th St., but had made the decision to keep a studio space in Lower Manhattan long before the devastation of 9/11.

They are currently working out of 45 John St., a location made available by the L.M.C.C. Here, the group is able to offer consistent productions put on by 3-Legged Dog and other artists such as League of Electronic Musical Urban Roots, Troika Ranch, Chad Redmon, Jeff Morey, Peter Norrman and Aldo Perez.

Operating since 1994, the theater and media group made the move to Lower Manhattan in 1997 and were directly hit on Sept. 11 at its studio in the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fiterman Hall, resulting in the loss of 3-Legged’s office space, equipment and press mailing list. They were also forced to lay off 24 of their 28 employees to survive. The group leased the space

“The L.M.C.C. has been very supportive through our recovery and its great that they’re finally able with the 9-11 fund to put some money behind their beliefs,” said Kevin Cunningham, executive artistic director of 3-Legged Dog. “It’s given the project a good kick start.”

After the grant money, the group still needs about an additional $1 million to be up and operating, Cunningham said. He said it’s important for smaller arts projects to go forward while the longer terms plans for a cultural center at the W.T.C. are debated and refined.

“I think it’s really important for the smaller scale projects to move forward immediately because we can,” Cunningham said. “Very small investments can have a huge impact if some money is focused on small businesses and arts.”

The Downtown Alliance, D.C.A. and L.M.C.C. gave over $1.7 million in capital and planning grants on July 11. The money was allocated over to the hands of 13 arts and cultural organizations Downtown, including the 3-Legged Dog grant. Many of the small businesses and arts groups are still struggling to rebuild after 9-11 and the grants are a much-needed handout.

Over 50 organizations applied for the cultural grants, and after an internal review process, they were narrowed down to 16 finalists who sent in complete proposals. A review panel convened in May and June to look over the applications and divide up the grant money.

“It’s going to allow organizations to reach new audiences,” said Kay Takeda, director of grants and services at the L.M.C.C. “It will encourage other organizations to be based down here.”

The New York Chinese Cultural Center received a $100,000 capital grant to renovate and possibly expand their facilities in Chinatown. The cultural center is a non-profit organization that teaches traditional Chinese performing arts and has been at its location on 390 Broadway for 10 of its 30-year existence. The group was facing the end of its lease in 2004 and is now able to stay in its current location due to the grant and supportive landlords.

“This is the longest time we’ve spent in a space, so it’s important for us to witness a stable presence and growth,” said Helen Wu, executive director of N.Y.C.C.C.

The Chinese Cultural Center was not in the immediate area of the W.T.C. geographically, but the community suffered a sharp decline in business due to less convenient transportation and accessibility to the neighborhood after the attacks. Parents also stopped taking their kids to class due to the unstable work situation and economic decline.

The Battery Dance Company received a $30,000 renovation grant, which the company will use to redo studio spaces and offices. The company has been in its current space at 380 Broadway for over 20 years and offers low cost and subsidized performance space to choreographers and dance companies, as well as dance classes for children.

Reconstruction has been in the planning stages for more than five years because, until now, the organization could not afford to begin renovations.

“This grant means the world to us,” said Peggy Coleman, managing director of Battery Dance Company. “The space has been deteriorating and we had put aside money before 9-11, but because of the economic decline we’ve had to use that money for operational expenses just to keep our doors open.”

The other organizations that received grants were Collective Unconscious, using the money to expand its space on Church St. Harvestworks, Electronic Music Foundation, the Center for Art, Tradition and Cultural Heritage, Independent Feature Project and the Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University were recipients of a planning grant to create or move to a space in Lower Manhattan. The Alwan Foundation, Art in General and Soho Repertory Theater will receive grants for small-scale renovation projects. Dance New Amsterdam and Poets House will receive capital construction grants from the city to complete projects that were under way before 9/11.


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