Column Shifting: Cultural Equity & Organizational Sustainability Fellowship

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April & May 2017

The success of non-commercial art spaces in New York City is tied to their ability to negotiate with the market, both to maintain a physical presence and to sustain long-term programming. There is an inherent tension between operating a non-commercial space and surviving in one of the most competitive real estate markets in the country. This tension amplifies in neighborhoods that are experiencing gentrification, where more and more resources have to be used for operating costs.

As organizations raise money to survive, they may deviate from their missions, lose their connections to place, compromise on programming, overwork and underpay employees, and even become complicit in the market processes that can ultimately result in their displacement.

To succeed, spaces need access to wealth or the expert knowledge and social networks to effectively fundraise. Spaces organized by and for historically marginalized groups in the city tend to have the most difficulty maintaining operations for the long term.

To gain a better understanding of the relationship between financial stability and cultural equity in non-commercial art spaces, Flux Factory’s Cultural Equity & Organizational Sustainability Fellow, Oksana Mironova, will conduct a series of in-depth interviews with artists and activists, as well as staff and volunteers at art spaces and supporting organizations. In April and May 2017, she will organize a series of events at Flux Factory focused on financial stability and cultural equity.


Jamaica_Is_170325-31Art & Community Development Discussion

Wednesday May 10th, 7pm-9pm
Flux Factory Gallery

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Art programming and community development can have a symbiotic or an adversarial relationship. On one hand, art spaces, from non-commercial community spaces to for-profit galleries, can be used by real estate interests to package neighborhoods and hasten gentrification. On the other hand, art and culture often plays a role in helping communities self-identify, develop identities, and as an organizing tool against displacement. In this panel we will explore the messy relationship between community development, art, and gentrification, as well as the line between the artist and community member in New York City. Further, we will brainstorm about potential ways to use art and culture programming and spaces to mitigate displacement.


Mei Lum, 5th generation owner-in-training of her family’s porcelain shop, Wing on Wo & Co (W.O.W) and founder and director of W.O.W’s community initiative, The W.O.W Project. Inspired by her family’s pivotal moment in deciding whether or not to fold their 92-year-old porcelain ware small business, Mei founded The W.O.W Project to engage community members in conversation and innovative idea generation about the future of their neighborhood.

Rosemary Reyes worked in global development at The Juilliard School spearheading international programs in Mexico City and Northern China. She was also Managing Editor for a small contemporary visual art publication in New Orleans called Pelican Bomb. Reyes freelances as a writer and communications consultant, and is currently working with the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and the Department of Cultural Affairs on the Building Community Capacity Initiative in Southeast Queens.
Patrick Dougher joined Groundswell’s team as Program Director in 2011 and is responsible for managing all program operations and logistics. Born and raised in Brooklyn, Dougher is an artist, musician, and educator with over 15 years experience in working for community-based arts and social justice organizations.

Catherine Green, Founder/Executive Director ARTs East New York

Photo of Greater Jamaica Development Corporation and the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Visioning Summit. Photo credit to Amina Hassen.

Who Produces NYC’s Culture?AlexaValentine-DenekaPeniston

Thursday May 25, 7pm-9pm
Flux Factory Gallery

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Taja Cheek, PS1
Noé Gaytán, Michelada Think Tank
Ali Rosa-Salas, Independent curator
Risa Shoup, Spaceworks
Antonio Serna, artists of color bloc

The life and death of non-commercial art and culture organizations in New York City today is tied very closely to their ability to negotiate with the market, both to maintain a physical presence and to sustain long-term programming. The spaces that ultimately succeed tend to be those that have access to wealth or the expert knowledge and social networks necessary to effectively fundraise. This reinforces existing hierarchies by limiting the ability of marginalized groups to define what New York City’s culture will look like.

During this panel, we will explore ways in which non-commercial art and culture organizations can promote equity both through their programming and through their organizational structure and fundraising, while surviving in a world of decreasing resources and in NYC.