NY City Council Testimony

David Johnston

Eugenie Cowan, Director of Exploring the Metropolis, gave this testimony on Tuesday, March 13 at the Preliminary FY 13 Budget Hearing of the Cultural Affairs, Libraries & International Intergroup Relations Committee, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair.

“Exploring the Metropolis is about New York City and performing arts workspace. Composers and performing artists need space to create.  Community and cultural facilities often have underused space.  Supply meets demand.   That’s what we did when we created NYC Performing Arts Spaces, now transferred to Fractured Atlas.

Our mission is: To foster a vibrant and prolific performing arts community around shared resources of space and talent, to increase stability and growth within the artistic community, and to help broaden public access to the performing arts.

Our Con Edison Musicians’ Residency Program pairs competitively selected composers needing long-term workspace with cultural facilities that have empty well-equipped studios.  The fall three-month residency provides fees for both, and they collaborate on programs free to their community.

Over 500 New Yorkers attended a dozen free programs that showcased the diversity and creativity of our 2011 composers/residents.  Some examples:

  • a new opera at Turtle Bay Music School using TBMS children’s chorus and dancers,
  • piano and vocal music programs in senior centers at Union Settlement in East Harlem,
  • The US Navy Band Northeast commissioned and presented Steven Rosenhaus at Flushing Town Hall
  • Korean composer Paul Yeon Lee used local musicians on the traditional daegeum for Korean audiences at Flushing Town Hall
  • And on Saturday film composer Joshua Green of Oscar-winning “Hugo”, will teach a film scoring workshop for 3rd to 5th graders in Turtle Bay Music School’s Saturday Music Project.

Together, the 2011 composers will perform in a special festival May 11 and 12 sponsored by LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.

For 2012, year 4, Flushing Town Hall will again host two composers.   Increasingly, we partner with community music schools.  They have empty space much of the day, and they welcome the chance to connect students with live composers.   This fall we will place two composers each at Bloomingdale School for Music, Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy and Turtle Bay Music School.   As for expansion, Lighthouse International, for the visually impaired, is interested in hosting a winter residency for two composers in their community music school.

This low-cost program has a broad reach:  It benefits and enriches composers, cultural facilities and New York’s diverse communities.   We thank the Department of Cultural Affairs and the City Council for your past support and we urge an increase in funding to the DCA’s CDF program.  Thank you.” 

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