SUSTAIN was a suite of projects that FAB presented to increase environmental awareness, sustainability, and money-saving greening efforts for member organizations and individual artists in the LES. Of these projects, FAB continues to run Load OUT! on a bi-annual basis.
Building off the sustainability work begun in 2010 with our arts and civic organization members, FABnyc developed SUSTAIN: Steering Urban Sustainability Through Action, Innovation & Networks—a joint project of FABnyc and Cooper Union Institute for Sustainabile Design (CUISD)—to generate new and innovative solutions to the complexities of urban sustainability. This expansion of our work was been made possible through a generous award from the Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation Fund.
Over a two-year period, this grant provided us with the ability to originate a variety of projects to harness and focus the talents of artists, architects, engineers, residents, small businesses, and activists—to develop and implement creative solutions to the challenges of urban sustainability for one city block—E. 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery.
Location & Approach:
New York City offers the ideal territory to creatively engage stakeholders from diverse backgrounds in sustainable interlinked patterns of living. Because sustainability issues are repeated block by block in NYC neighborhoods, we believe there is a real opportunity to also lead innovative solutions on a block-by-block basis.
A wide body of research supports the wisdom of this approach—the most successful sustainability initiatives rise from the “bottom up,” rather than imposed from above. There is also increasing interest from scientists to partner with artists to creatively and emotionally engage people in active and prolonged behaviour change.
Projects ranged from exhibitions to installing whiteroofs around the neighborhood to public art installations. Designated the “Model Block” for Manhattan Borough President Stringer’s Go Green Lower East Side initiative in the spring of 2011, that effort expanded to include residents and small businesses, along with the arts groups, for existing energy, waste and water reductions programs. Model Block partners included Con Edison, Solar One, GrowNYC, the White Roof Project, the LES Ecology Center, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
Connect the Blocks
Connect the Blocks was a FAB program implemented in 2010 that started to help downtown dancemakers share resources to get their work done. Much of what Connect the Blocks comprised has been subsumed into our ongoing (and ever-growing!) Dance Block program, which:
- provides dancemakers with access to subsidized rehearsal space in FAB member spaces
- provides member spaces with an earned income stream consisting of the rental fees generated from rehearsals
- connects dancemakers and institutions through the proliferation of rehearsal space that might not otherwise be in contact, creating a wider audience for institutions and dancemakers alike
- ensures that working artists have access to space in the historically fertile and creative neighborhood that is the Lower East Side.
Connect the Blocks was created to help downtown dancemakers share resources to get their work done. FABnyc and OurGoods joined forces to offer a workshops, live barter events, networking opportunities, and sharing circles all designed to help artists make your work with support from one’s own community.
Within this program, Downtown Dance Learning Circles are facilitated peer-to-peer resource sharing groups. Within the circles, dancemakers present their challenges to each other and brainstorm solutions together, and in doing so, build relationships, share resources, and move your work and the work of your peers forward.
Challenges posed came from a few areas:
- Artistic (“I need help breaking out of my habitual movement vocabulary”);
- Career-focused (“I need help bringing my work to the attention of Presenter X/developing a relationship with Funder Y”)
- Production-focused (“I need help finding a video designer to collaborate on my project/writing a realistic budget for my show/coping with a conflict at this rehearsal space”).
Each circle consisted of six to eight dancemakers at similar career stages. Each meeting began with 90 minutes of facilitated conversation during which each artist presents his/her challenges and gets feedback from the group. The meetings ended with a half an hour of open time when members can talk one-‐on-‐one. The circle met monthly for four months.