The Need for Subsidized Dance Space

David Johnston

Here at EtM, it’s gratifying for us to read this press release on the recipients of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Dance Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program.

Why? Because in 2010, Exploring the Metropolis was operating as NYC Performing Arts Spaces, a program of Fractured Atlas.

At that time, our current Executive Director, David Johnston was Project Director for We Make Do, More Time is Better But Budget is King,” a study on the space needs of midcareer single-choreographer-led dance companies, commissioned by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In that report, we stressed the importance of providing subsidized rehearsal space for NYC dancers and the need to support NYC’s dance organizations that provided space.

Now, nine years later this work is still going strong through Dance/NYC and their administration of this grant.We are also happy to see the continued importance of SpaceFinder and their NYC Dance Directory, powered by Fractured Atlas.

Back in 2000, Exploring the Metropolis conceived, developed and built what eventually became NYC Performing Arts Spaces, a web-based database of rehearsal and performance spaces for New York City-based musicians, dancers and theater makers. In 2008, we transferred this asset now known as SpaceFinder.

EtM still focuses on space needs for artists and support for the New York City community and cultural organizations that provide this space. In a few weeks, we will be launching the fifth round of the EtM Choreographer + Composer Residencies in Jamaica, where we award dance-makers and composers with free space at the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning to make new work.

“Today, Dance/NYC is pleased to announce recipients of the New York City Dance Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program. Administered by Dance/NYC and made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program offers support over a 36-month period to 15 NYC-based organizations in order to provide subsidized rates for dance rehearsal space.

The 15 grantees of the New York City Dance Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program are:

• Abrons Arts Center/Henry Street Settlement
Ballet Hispánico
Baryshnikov Arts Center
CUNY Dance Initiative
Green Space
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Fourth Arts Block
Mark Morris Dance Center
Movement Research
New York Live Arts
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
Topaz Arts

Read the story in Crain’s New York Business at

“With this program, Dance/NYC continues to provide strategic support to dance makers across New York City, by bridging a critical resource gap for artistic development while fostering a more inclusive and fair dance field,” says Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Acting Executive Director of Dance/NYC.

Grantees will receive funding totaling $1,647,500 to provide subsidized rehearsal space at an average rate of $10 per hour to dance makers from January 2019 through December 2021, collectively offering more than 65,000 hours of affordable access across all five boroughs.

The granting program was informed by substantial research on dance rehearsal space throughout the five boroughs. During Summer 2018, a site audit process developed and implemented by Carrie Blake of Webb Management Services ( with support from disability arts consultant Christine Bruno and architect/universal design expert Delia Nevola of Holzman Moss Bottino Architecture (, assessed the physical condition, characteristics, and amenities of 42 rehearsal facilities. An invitation-only application was extended to 25 qualifying facilities in Fall 2018. Through an internal review process, the cohort was selected based on their merits and potential to be leading contributors of rehearsal space for the creation and development of dance works. Dance/NYC prioritized spaces that represent aesthetic and cultural diversity across geographies, ADA compliance, and the demographics of artists served. Key evaluation criteria included quality of rehearsal space; ability to provide substantial access to subsidized space annually; expressed commitment to values of diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice; and commitment to subsidizing rehearsal space for small-budget dance groups (with budgets of less than $1 million).

In undertaking this work, Dance/NYC aims to address the challenge of affordability underscored by another Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported initiative: “We Make Do:” More Time is Better, But Budget is King (2010). As indicated by recent Dance/NYC research—Advancing Fiscally Sponsored Dance Artists & Projects (Dance.NYC/DanceFiscalSponsors2017) and NYC’s Foreign-Born Dance Workforce Demographics (Dance.NYC/ForeignBornWorkforce2018)—this chronic challenge has hit a crisis point for local dance artists, who rank affordable artistic development space as their top need, especially amongst small-budget dance makers and specific populations, like foreign-born and immigrant artists.

Notably, this program responds to pressing concerns laid out in CreateNYC (, the City of New York’s first-ever cultural plan released in July 2017, which identifies affordable living, work, and presentation spaces as top priorities for New York City’s artist population. The program will advance the goals of CreateNYC, as well of the New York State Council on the Arts and Mertz Gilmore Foundation, which operate related rehearsal space subsidy programs. The New York City Dance Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program will effectively expand Dance/NYC’s regrant portfolio to meet the needs of local artists.

This work is central to the mission of Dance/NYC, and leverages the organization’s field knowledge and research, capacity as a regrantor, wide cross-sector network, to create operational efficiencies and to strengthen the impact of subsidy efforts for the dance making populations of New York City.

Visit Dance.NYC for details about Dance/NYC’s New York City Dance Rehearsal Space Subsidy Program and for access to the SpaceFinder NYC Dance Space Directory, powered by Fractured Atlas.”


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