Arts programs drawing up new ways to raise funds – July 21, 2009

Daily News, Queens

BY Pauline Pechin

Tuesday, July 21st 2009, 10:11 AM

NEW YORK CITY is home to cultural organizations in just about every medium. But the recession has forced local groups to find alternative solutions to stretch scarce resources.

One example is the Center for the Holographic Arts in Long Island City, the only program in the city geared toward emerging holographers.

After losing a $50,000 grant this year, the nonprofit group relocated its equipment and residency program to Ohio State University. It also moved its exhibition program to the Flux Factory, a Queens-based artists’ collective.

Flux Factory “is designed so that there’s enough room for everything to evolve,” said Martina Mrongovius, manager of the holographic arts program. “I think some interesting things are going to come out of [the collaboration].”

Chen Tamir, executive director of Flux Factory, said she has relied heavily on volunteers since the facility’s relocation to a warehouse in Dutch Kills. The organization was evicted in October from its previous space to make way for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority‘s East Side Access project.

“Even though our programming grants were cut drastically, our greatest resource – our community – has grown,” Tamir said. “So many folks are now unemployed and looking to get involved in supportive communities.”

The Queens Museum of Art has reduced its programming and staff to help shoulder its $48 million expansion project. The museum recently launched its Adopt-A-Building program, which allows patrons to own “real estate” on the Panorama of New York City for $50 to $10,000 donations. In June, the museum also hosted its second annual “Non-Gala,” an online fund-raiser utilizing social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“I don’t want to sound partisan, but [it is] the Obama-style fund-raising, where you’re getting a lot of small donations from a lot of people adding up,” said Executive Director Tom Finkelpearl.

“Everyone has to be thinking that way because now you have to look at new paradigms for fund-raising.”

The SculptureCenter in Long Island City is talking to a benefactor to supplement its admissions fees.

Executive Director Mary Ceruti said revenue from the center’s two largest fund-raisers in the past year was down about 12% combined.

“The challenge will be finding ways to rethink the programming so that we can deliver on our mission – to foster experimental and innovative sculpture,” she said.

Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer, executive director of the Queens Council on the Arts, said that despite the economic turbulence, artists by nature are accustomed to uncertainty, and are resilient.

“I think you will see some very innovative ways of surviving and actually succeeding that will come out of these diverse communities,” Krakauer said.

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