Our WorkInitiatives New York City Cultural Innovation

New York City Cultural Innovation

Investing in culture to build resilience and advance inclusive economies in New York City.


For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation has called New York City home—and we’ve been equally committed to supporting programs in our backyard as we are around the world.

HAMILTON - Public Theater/Newman Theater - 2015 PRESS ART - Lin-Manuel Miranda and the company - Photo credit: Joan Marcus

Most recently, in an effort to use musical to rouse historical curiosities, the Foundation formed an innovative educational partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the NYC Department of Education to provide 20,000 NYC public school students with the opportunity to see Hamilton on Broadway and ultimately integrate the show into classroom studies.

Moreover, since 2007, The Rockefeller Foundation’s New York City Cultural Innovation Fund has granted $16.3 million to help cultural institutions leverage social innovation as a means to building greater resilience and advancing inclusive economies, reaching a half-million people across New York City. We’ve supported a diverse portfolio of experiments, explorations, and innovations by 86 different cultural and community organizations in New York City, including the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education and the Queens Museum.

The Cultural Innovation Fund has supported an array of innovations, including:

  • Supporting cultural organizations to experiment with new artistic programs and imaginative audience engagement strategies, including involving community residents in creating work and piloting new revenue-generating approaches to sustain artists.
  • Increasing capacity for innovation and supporting projects that reflect the creative aspirations of low-income and minority people, and contributed to the development of theory and practice integrating the arts into efforts to achieve cultural equity and community resilience.
  • Supporting and encouraging disruptive innovations as The Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts—an effort by over a dozen community-based cultural organizations to leverage our indigenous cultural expression to increase civic participation, increase sustainability and enhance cohesion in NYC’s low-income communities.

Through this support, more than half our grantees each leveraged more than $100,000 in additional funds, and 15 percent raised more than $500,000, for a total of more than $12.5 in matching funds.

The Rockefeller Foundation will continue to support, by invitation only, innovations in cultural expression as a part of the NYC Opportunities Fund.

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