Cultural Solidarity Fund (CSF), a coalition of cultural institutions administered by the IndieSpace/Indie Theater Fundwith leadership from LEIMAY was organized during the pandemic to provide both solidarity and support to the arts community at a time when its very survival was in question. The coalition started with just an idea in spring 2020 but is proud to announce it has now granted $1,005,000 to 2,010 arts workers in need in the form of $500 microgrants for housing, food, medical expenses, and family care.
When the COVID19 pandemic hit NYC, 66% of arts workers lost their only source of income. Like many creative fields, they had little to no reserves to support them during a crisis, revealing the lack of any financial safety net comparable to those afforded to people in other professions.
A group of artists and institutions, each facing their own challenges, responded to this crisis by forming the Cultural Solidarity Fund (CSF) to raise essential funds for arts workers facing financial insecurities. Members of the CSF understood that these workers represent the backbone of our cultural ecology, and organized for collective action.
“We are so thrilled to have been able to put solidarity to action and provide such significant resources to our community during this incredibly difficult time.” said Randi Berry, Executive Director, IndieSpace. “The continued support and desire to uplift our fellow artists during times of need is a true testament to the strength of our community, and what’s possible when we work together.”
Support for these artists-in-need remains an important part of our economic revitalization as a whole. According to the State Comptroller’s recent report on the impact of Covid-19, NYC’s creative sector accounts for 13 percent of the city’s total economic output, with 12 percent of all U.S. creative industry jobs located in NYC.
While CSF is no longer accepting applications and is focusing on funding as many current applicants as possible right now, both individuals and organizations can still sponsor a grant at culturalsolidarityfund.org. There are 225 artists waiting for support.
The Cultural Solidarity Fund, administered by the IndieSpace/Indie Theater Fund with leadership by LEIMAY, provided relief microgrants of $500 to artists and cultural workers – prioritizing Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), immigrant, undocumented, disabled/deaf, and trans and gender-nonconforming individuals who have been most severely impacted by the pandemic both epidemiologically and economically.
Cultural Solidarity Fund grants were open to artists and cultural workers who resided within the five boroughs of New York City on April 1, 2020. These include: Actors, Administrators, Choreographers, Custodians, Curators, Dancers, Designers, Directors, Drivers, Dramaturgs, Front of House, Guards, Janitors, Installers, Musicians, Playwrights, Production Managers, Receptionists, Technical Crew and Art Handlers, Stage Managers, Teaching Artists, Technicians, Ushers, Visual Artists, and anyone working in any capacity in the arts/cultural non-profit or community-based sector.
The Cultural Solidarity Fund aims to direct funds specifically to artists and cultural workers in most urgent need of assistance with rent, groceries, medical expenses, and other essential services.
In the spirit of coalition and resource sharing, NYC arts and cultural organizations of all sizes and structures come together to grow a joint Cultural Solidarity Fund. This coalition both envisions and provides an interim model of a sustainable economic system for cultural workers in NYC. In the absence of a safetynet, over 250 organizations and individuals have helped CSF raise $1,069,504, including generous donations from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ($550,000), The Howard Gilman Foundation ($100,000) and The Tow Foundation ($50,000).
The current Organizing Group of the Cultural Solidarity Fund emerged out of the Culture@3 daily calls and comprises 17 organizations that meet weekly in collective decision making and idea implementation processes. These organizations include: Dancewave, Dance Parade, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Elevator Repair Service, HERE, Hi-Arts, LEIMAY, Mark Morris Dance Group, National Dance Institute, NYC & Company, New Yorkers for Culture and Arts, Performance Space New York, Theater for a New Audience, The Bushwick Starr, and IndieSpace/The Indie Theater Fund with additional support from ADVANCE/MORE Opera and Bronx Arts Ensemble.
As of April 2022, sponsoring organizations include: 651 ARTS, Apollo Theater, Artists Space, Arts House School, Asian American Arts Alliance, Barre Vida, Broadway Cares / Equity Fights Aids, Bronx Council on the Arts, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Brooklyn Ballet, Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Cherry Lane Theatre, Children Museum of Arts, Dance/NYC, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Dancewave, Dance Parade, Danspace Project, Danza Espana, Elevator Repair Service Theater, Flushing Council on Culture & The Arts, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, Ford Foundation, Friends of The Anthropologists, Frigid NY, Fund for the City of New York, Gibney Dance, Harlem Stage, HERE Arts Center, Hi-ARTS, Hispanic Society of America, Ice Theatre of New York, ID Studio Theater, International Arts Relations, Irish Repertory Theatre, Issue Project Room, Jack Arts, JP Morgan – The Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust, Kinesis Project dance theatre, La MaMa, League of Independent Theater, LEIMAY, Lifetime Arts, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Mabou Mines Development Foundation, Mark Morris Dance Group, MCC Theater, Meredith Monk/The House Foundation for the Arts, Movement Research, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, National Black Theatre, National Dance Institute, New York Foundation for the Arts, New York Live Arts, New York Theatre Workshop,New Yorkers for Culture and Arts, NYC & Company, Path to Rhythm, Performance Space New York, Ping Chong and Company, Primary Stages, Queens Theatre, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Rooftop Films, Roundabout Theatre Company, Scrap Paper Pictures, Seven Loaves Inc, Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, Soho Rep, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Stefanie Nelson Dancegroup, STREB, Symphony Space, The 52nd Street Project, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Bushwick Starr, The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, The Chocolate Factory, The Dance Enthusiast, The Field, The Hispanic Museum & Library, The Howard Gilman Foundation, The Indie Theatre Fund/IndieSpace, The José Limón Dance Foundation, The Joyce Theater, The Kitchen, The Lucille Lortel Theatre Foundation, The New Group, The Playwrights Realm, The Tank, The Tow Foundation, TheaterLab, Theatre for a New Audience, Theatre Projects, Thompson Family Foundation, UrbanGlass, Venturous Theater Fund, Wildlife Conservation Society, What We Do.
IndieSpace was established in 2016 to disrupt the ongoing displacement of small theaters and to address systemic inequities in NYC real estate. In 2022, it merged with Indie Theater Fund, an organization focused on a new model for equitable funding for the indie theater community. By contributing a nickel per ticket from their shows to a pot of money for funding, the indie theater community could create a method of self-sustainability and could rethink philanthropy and the process of grant making. Through radically transparent and equitable grants, community resources and advocacy, the Fund supported hundreds of indie theater companies and thousands of individual artists.
Now as one organization, IndieSpace has an expanded capacity to serve hundreds more artists on an annual basis, helping individual artists, small companies and indie venues plant roots and grow. In addition to continuing its founding mission of supporting indie venues facing a real estate transition, challenge, or opportunity, and helping them create permanent solutions, IndieSpace continues initiatives started by Indie Theater Fund, such as running a Mental Health program that has served over 200 artists; leading several coalition-based funding programs, including the Cultural Solidarity Fund, the AAPI Transportation Fund, and the DCLA City Artist Corps grants; and providing hundreds of hours of professional development to individuals and small companies that cannot afford those services directly, focused on fundraising, budgeting, marketing, anti-racism and anti-oppression trainings.
Since its founding, IndieSpace has: consulted with 70+ venues making real estate decisions, including The Tank, Frigid NY, The Chain, the wild project, Wooster Group, and Classical Theater of Harlem; helped 18 organizations sign new leases; saved seven theaters from being closed or repurposed; created four real estate operation partnerships; walked one venue through the purchase of their new home; and co-established a rehearsal space co-op in a 99-year lease. During Covid, IndieSpace supported over 50 venues navigating their leases by helping them stay open, and also collaborated with Indie Theater Fund to provide over $1.5M in relief grants to the indie theater community. For service to the community, IndieSpace received the Ellen Stewart Award and a citation from the City Council of New York. IndieSpace also worked with Community Board 2 to negotiate a permanent space for the cultural community in a new development on Gansevoort Street, which it will co-operate with HERE, the New Ohio and Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.
LEIMAY is a grassroots artist-run organization and performing arts ensemble that exists out of the art space called CAVE in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. LEIMAY is an entanglement of art and life. The word LEMAY is a Japanese word that means a moment of light in the darkness or a moment of transition. Initiated by Shige Moriya of Japan in 1996 and joined by Ximena Garnica of Colombia in 2001, LEIMAY is led by artists and holds a regular NYC home season, offers classes to the public, brings in guest artists for workshops, and collaborates with presenting/educational partners across NYC, in upstate NY, and beyond. LEIMAY was incorporated in 2003 by young immigrants (Ximena and Shige) who were passionate about creating a space for art to exist amongst the barriers and challenges they felt as new NYC residents. LEIMAY believes in the circulation of energies, resources, and imagination.
For over 25 years, CAVE has been a refuge for immigrants and New Yorkers. LEIMAY, as cited in the book ‘Alternative Histories: New York Art Spaces from 1960-2010’ (published in 2012), is embedded in the aesthetic and social fabric of NYC as a site for experimentation for artists to innovate, perform, and exhibit. From 1996-2006, CAVE opened as a gallery/performance space in Brooklyn, featuring 70 visual art, music, and theatrical performance exhibitions w/300 artists. From 2003-2009, LEIMAY produced four sold-out editions of the New York Butoh Festival with 100 dancers (from Japan, Sweden, Germany, France, Colombia, & the US) for over 8000 audience members. Between 2001-2007, LEIMAY organized 50 butoh workshops attended by 800 dancers, and from 2008-2011, LEIMAY introduced the NY Butoh Kan Training Initiative, which led to the establishment of the LEIMAY LUDUS Training program. Since 2008, LUDUS has served 2500 performers and hosted 65 teaching residencies by theater-makers. In addition to producing original creative performances, LEIMAY currently operates the following community programs: INCUBATOR Program (10-14 artists/year who receive studio space, mentoring, and marketing); LUDUS Training Programs (community classes/intensives taught by LEIMAY Ensemble members and guest artists); OUTSIGHT Presenting Series (performances by local and international theater, dance and performance artists in Community Gardens); LEIMAY spearheads the Cultural Solidarity Fund administered by Indie Space.
LEIMAY’s work ranges from sculptural, video, mixed-media, and light installations to photography, training projects, stage performances, and publications, including 22 performances; 9 gallery shows; 6 photograph series; 4 drawing series; and 12 video installation series.