Some foundations like to throw giant black-tie galas in Lower Manhattan with gypsy jazz bands and champagne fountains. We can't knock them for it, although it wouldn't hurt if at some point we were actually invited to some of these soirees. It's not as if these foundations can't find us.
Other foundations, meanwhile, prefer to keep a lower profile. So low that when we google them, their sites don't even pop up on the first page of search results. One such foundation is the New York-based Harkness Foundation for Dance.
Loyal IP readers will recall that we were intrigued by the foundation's mysterious, low-key approach, best reflected by its equally limelight-shy former executive director Theodore S. Bartwink. He stepped down last year after 30 years at the helm of the foundation.
For those keeping track at home, the foundation has given over $10 million in the last ten years to dance troupes of all sizes. They're particularly keen on supporting smaller outfits, most of which are based in New York and owe their very existence to a single Harnkess grant. It's a refreshing, albeit somewhat sad counterpoint to what's going on two hours south on I-95 in Philadelphia.
Now Harkness is back in the news after announcing it would contribute $1 million each to five NYC-based dance organizations. Below, we've listed the recipients and how they play to use the money.
- Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) will provide leadership support for dance presentations in BAM's three theaters, which include the Howard Gilman Opera House, the BAM Harvey Theater, and the BAM Fisher. The grant will also contribute to an annual Harkness Dance Residency at the BAM Fisher.
- The Joyce Theater will inaugurate a new performance series entitled American Dance Platform, dedicated to Bartwink. Funds will also support the "Joyce Unleashed" program of off-site performances featuring small dance companies, piloted successfully in the 2013-14 season.
- The New York City Center will complete renovations on its three studios, naming the Harkness Studio (4th floor), and a new Harkness Fund for Dance to enhance City Center's resources for dance presenting, commissions, live musical accompaniment, and festivals.
- The 92Y's Harkness Dance Center will reshape and expand its educational and presenting programs, dedicating the annual 92Y Harkness Dance Festival to Mr. Bartwink. The Y will also initiate a three-tier dance artist residency program, supporting a mid-career artist, a legacy company, and an emerging artist.
- The Hospital for Joint Diseases will name a new boardroom in honor of William A. Perlmuth, the foundation's current chairman. It will function as a state-of-the-art hub for education and networking for the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries and the hospital. A comprehensive new series of online courses on dance injury and treatment will also be developed and be made available at low cost to medical professionals, dancers, parents, and dance teachers.
Taken in total, the foundation's grants run the full gamut of the dance world, ranging from leadership development to residencies to building renovations to low-cost courses on injury treatment.
New York City-based dance troupes should certainly take note, while also tempering their expectations. While there may be a much-needed grant in your future, the champagne fountain probably won't be included.