For the last 3.5 years you have taken a journey with me, exploring art and its role in strong communities and the survival of the human race. After a business planning exercise, my board and I have decided not to move forward with establishing a 501c3. We do not think there is sufficient philanthropic support to sustain the original model, and I was not comfortable committing to the deliverables we came up with to support a revenue driven structure.
We began in 2010, with a Rockefeller Foundation Cultural Innovation grant as The Institute for Culture in the Service of Community Sustainability. Our intention was to convene and survey the arts sector to help us create strategies for furthering our mission – “To strengthen art’s central role in civic life, in order to enhance cultural, community and environmental sustainability.”
We researched, we outreached and we convened like crazy. Over the course of 3 years we held: 7 Town Hall meetings (including one in each borough); 8 salons on various interdisciplinary topics; 4 Public lectures; one helluva launch party (that people still talk about three years later); and 12 Solar Salons, where each equinox and solstice, renewable energy industry stakeholders and artists meet to discuss moving renewable energy forward in New York State.
Together we looked at alternative business models, new ways of mapping the cultural sector and the role of the arts in issuing the clarion call on climate change we so badly need. Along the way we became Cultural Strategies Initiative and picked up clients with projects that were living laboratories for our ideas. We developed several incredible projects for them, in urban development, solar power, community mapping and community organizing through music and the internet.
I will forever be grateful to Edwin Torres and the Rockefeller Foundation for our initial funding and to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; the New York Community Trust; the New York State Council on the Arts; Darren Walker at the Ford Foundation; the Institute of International Education (twice), Miles Rapoport and Demos, and all of the many individuals who have contributed resources and engaged in the dialogue that produced Cultural Strategies Initiative.
The existence of life on the planet depends on each and every one of us committing more time and energy as artists, to questioning our social, economic and governance systems and using our power as artists to envision, communicate and build a future where active ecocide is no more than a memory of a terrible past practice, as is this obscene specter of Dickensian disparity between rich and poor.
Obviously, I am not going to stop pursuing these objectives and I hope you will allow me to stay in touch and keep you informed of my future projects. Once again, thank you for all of your support and encouragement. We learned a lot and we moved the conversation forward.
In Art & Solidarity,