How the New York Community Trust Helps College Choreographers Find Practice Space

Finding vacant studio space in New York City can be rough, especially if you’re on a tight budget. But as Jeffrey Rosenstock, Executive Director of the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College told the Wall Street Journal, "It's a big city, and most of us don't know the crevices.” To give dancers and choreographers the space they need to practice and perform, the New York Community Trust (NYCT) funded an initiative between 11 college campuses across five boroughs (Read New York Community Trust: New York City Grants).

The initiative is called the CUNY Dance Initiative, and it’s being funded by a two-year $200,000 NYCT grant and an $80,000 Mertz Gilmore Foundation grant. This funding comes after NYCT previously provided a $50,000 pilot program grant. Apparently, there are plenty of studios and stages around the city that remain empty between semesters or during school breaks. Some of the participating colleges are LaGuardia Community College in Queens, Bronx's Hostos Community College, and the College of Staten Island. Dance groups aren’t required to use the grant money for performances or classes, so even technical rehearsals for lighting and sound are fair game.

One of the most unique aspects of this NYCT-funded initiative is the quick turnaround time. CUNY is wants to eliminate as much red tape as possible for these college dance troupes that don’t have time or money to spend on burdensome application processes.

But this isn’t the only recent NYCT grant that is helping dancers acquire the space they need to practice, teach, and perform. The community foundation also recently awarded a $150,000 grant to help the Flatiron District’s Gibney Dance Center lease an additional 36,000 square-foot space downtown. This grant is also helping the dance center expand its community outreach to encourage other small groups to rent their space to affordably teach and practice dance.

Expanding dance space seems to be hot in the world of grantmaking today, but there are a few things you should know about NYCT’s Arts & Culture grantmaking program. Dance groups outside of Manhattan will be given priority, as will ethnic groups and mid-sized groups. The foundation defines a mid-sized arts group as one with an annual budget between $250,000 and $2 million. Organizations that focus on programs in schools, like the CUNY initiative, tend to be favored as well. The upcoming grant application deadlines to keep in mind this year are June 13th and October 15th, and a list of open requests for proposals are posted on the foundation’s website. The arts program officer, Kerry McCarthy, can be reached at kem@nyct-cfi.org