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The Rockefeller Foundation Gives Nearly $3 Million to Support Local New York City Artists

NEW YORK—Today The Rockefeller Foundation’s President Dr. Judith Rodin announced the 16 winners of the Foundation’s 2012 New York City Cultural Innovation Fund competition—and with it nearly $3 million in grants to support local New York City art and artists. Each of these 16 New York City-based organizations will receive a two-year grant of up to $250,000, underscoring the Foundation’s commitment to artistic expression and innovation, and bolstering the vital economic engine that the creative sector brings to New York. This year’s winners were selected from nearly 400 diverse projects.

One strong theme of this year’s winners was the development of new ways for artists to sustain their art-making into the future. ArtHome will offer Individual Development Accounts that will encourage savings, allowing them to develop businesses to support their art-making. Harvestworks will partner with The Industrial and Technology Assistance Corporation to develop artists’ technological innovations into entrepreneurial ventures. Eyebeam Atelier will combine NYC’s historic mastery of fashion design with its emerging technological prowess to create innovations in wearable technology.

“The Rockefeller Foundation is thrilled to continue our tradition of supporting art and creativity right here in our hometown of New York City through the Cultural Innovation Fund,” said Dr. Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “As the creative sector continues to advance, we must be sure that this growth is sustainable and equitable so that all our cultural producers have the resources they need to continue to create innovative and thought provoking work that challenges all of us to question and learn new things.”

Many of this year’s winners also focus on cultural equity. While many cultural organizations struggle to secure the engagement of low-income communities, our award recipients are ensuring that they engage community members where they are. Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) will engage traditionally underserved communities by bringing arts programming to public housing. The Laundromat Project will organize art workshops in local coin-operated laundromats. Caribbean Cultural Center—African Diaspora Institute will develop an app that maps El Barrio’s Cultural History. Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) will present a performance series celebrating the Bronx’s musical legacy from Latin jazz to hip hop.

Started in 2007, the New York City Cultural Innovation Fund awards two-year grants, ranging from $50,000 to $250,000, for groundbreaking initiatives that enrich the City’s cultural life and help to ensure the continued economic strength and diversity of the City’s creative sector.

Three prominent leaders from the fields of innovation and the arts served as advisors to the Fund: David Thorpe, Vice President for Strategy and Analysis for Sapient; Andrew Zolli, Founder, Z+ Partners and Curator, annual Pop!Tech Conference; and Eungie Joo, Keith Haring Director and Curator of Education and Public Programs at The New Museum.

The New York City Cultural Innovation Fund builds on The Rockefeller Foundation’s tradition of support for the arts. Historically, the Foundation provided major support for the establishment of several of New York City’s landmark cultural institutions, including Lincoln Center, the Museum of Modern Art and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The Foundation has also supported artists in a variety of fields through its investments in national arts organizations including United States Artists, and Renew Media.

The Foundation also continues to support artists through The Bellagio Residency program, which allows artists to conduct focused, goal-oriented work that is inspired or relates to global or social issues, while accessing fellow residents from a stimulating array of disciplines and geographies. The Foundation also participates in ArtPlace, a collaboration between several private foundations and federal agencies (including the National Endowment for the Arts) to support the role of creative expression in the development of vibrant communities nationwide.

The Rockefeller Foundation: The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the well-being of people throughout the world has remained unchanged since its founding in 1913.  Today, that mission is applied to an era of rapid globalization. Our vision is that this century will be one in which globalization’s benefits are more widely shared and its challenges are more easily weathered. To realize this vision, the Foundation seeks to achieve two fundamental goals in our work. First, we seek to build resilience that enhances individual, community and institutional capacity to survive, adapt, and grow in the face of acute crises and chronic stresses. Second, we seek to promote growth with equity in which the poor and vulnerable have more access to opportunities that improve their lives.  In order to achieve these goals, the Foundation constructs its work into time-bound initiatives that have defined objectives and strategies for impact. These initiatives address challenges that lie either within or at the intersections of five issue areas: basic survival safeguards, global health, environment and climate change, urbanization, and social and economic security.

For more information about The Rockefeller Foundation, or to learn more about applying for an award from the 2013 New York City Cultural Innovation Fund, please visit

Recipients of the 2012 Rockefeller Foundation New York City Cultural Innovation Fund Awards

  • Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York for development of a new model for non-profit arts organizations in which administrative functions are delivered through a shared agency owned by its clients, allowing them to focus on the creation and presentation of art
  • Apollo Theater to leverage their brand and intellectual property to secure sustainable earned-income through licensing, merchandising and broadcast
  • ArtHome, fiscally sponsored by Fund for the City of New York, to offer Assets for Artists: an Individual Development Account program that supports artists’ entrepreneurial ventures
  • Caribbean Cultural Center – African Diaspora Institute to map a historic and cultural tour of El Barrio through an augmented reality platform accessible via handheld personal devices
  • Eyebeam Atelier to facilitate the development of new approaches and markets for wearable technology, combining NYC’s rising technological prowess with its legacy of design and production of fashion
  • Fourth Arts Block in partnership with Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design to transform East 4th Street Cultural District into a sustainable city block, using the arts as a tool for engagement and as the means to share lessons learned with the rest of NYC
  • Ghetto Film School to teach students to research and film trends analyses to better develop their creative and production skills
  • Harvestworks to partner with The Industrial and Technology Assistance Corporation to develop artists’ technological innovations into entrepreneurial ventures
  • The Laundromat Project to promote civic participation by organizing art workshops in local coin-operated laundromats with community partners including Majora Carter and Hometown Security Lab, New York University and Rada Film Group
  • Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts to engage traditionally underserved communities by bringing arts programming to public housing
  • MAPP International Productions to partner with twelve cultural organizations and educational institutions to produce a retrospective of the life’s work of Sekou Sundiata, bringing a fresh look at his artistry and legacy to audiences citywide
  • People’s Production House, fiscally sponsored by the Fund for the City of New York, to team artists, advocates, and technologists with low-wage workers, immigrants, and youth to produce vibrant stories about NYC
  • Parsons The New School for Design and the Public Policy Lab to partner with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development to empower NYC residents as co-designers and co-producers of housing services
  • St. Ann’s Warehouse for an immersive theater experience to activate dialogue on the crime of human sex trafficking
  • Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation to incubate a cross-cultural performance series of emerging and established artists at key locations across the Bronx before settling at the Bronx Music Heritage Center, a new community hub in a mixed-used affordable housing development
  • Word Above the Street to launch The Water Tank Project, an NYC public art initiative to raise awareness of and activate dialogue about the global water crisis


Media Inquiries
Laura Gordon, The Rockefeller Foundation, 212-852-8216 or 646-915-2613,