Dance New Amsterdam – Challenge Semi-Finalist

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Dance New Amsterdam supports the artistry, longevity, and sustainable careers of dance artists in the United States.

Our adaptive challenge

Because of the steadily declining trend in institutional philanthropic giving, Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) will empower American dance artists (and, conversely, the national dance sector at large) by providing the infrastructure, support and encouragement to practitioners in the field to research, develop and implement innovative entrepreneurial artistic and business practices that will enable a renewed direction towards sustainability and longevity in the field.

Why it is important that our organization address this challenge, and why now?

Within the national dance field, there is a lack of comprehensive initiatives that encourage and support artists to pursue their artistic development and also link their vision with entrepreneurial endeavors. Our initiative encourages artists to have a wider perspective on their role in today’s commercial economic and social system. DNA’s proposed program is designed to offer extended opportunities for professionals in the dance field to research, develop and implement models that address future resiliency for the field. Our goal is to work in a collaborative open-source style process to create sustainable and collective models inclusive of cross-discipline and cross-sector practices that will benefit the arts sector on the whole.

What are the foundational assumptions that have reliably predicted success in the past that we are now questioning?

A wide-reaching assumption, not only within our organization, but amongst peer presenting dance organizations, is that the philanthropic community supports organizations with a proven track record of providing meaningful support to artists and developing/presenting strong work. In actuality, the philanthropic sector in the United States – particularly in the area of the arts and culture – has been steadily declining over the past several years, which necessitates a radically new vision for supporting and sustaining the arts in the future. DNA is working on becoming the part of that solution and sharing it with the national arts sector at large.

What is the evidence that is causing us to question our assumptions?

DNA is part of LOMAL (Lower Manhattan Arts League), a powerful consortium of some of the most important performing arts organization in New York City, and statistics collected both within our organization and amongst our peers have shown a declining trend in contributed income support. Not only have many foundations closed their cultural programs and are no longer providing funding for the arts, many other foundations have folded altogether, or have ceased to accept proposals. The meteoric rise of crowd-funding and resource-sharing platforms over the recent several years is also an evident indicator of new ways of generating income being undertaken by contemporary arts practitioners to replace waning philanthropic funding streams.

What are the bold new directions we are imagining for our organization?

This year, DNA is looking to magnify its national impact by harnessing its resources and partnerships and developing the Building Entrepreneurial Arts Models (BEAM) program. BEAM engages a diverse group of leading dance practitioners in a 2-year pilot with the goal of advancing systems that support life-long professional development in creative and business practices. The resulting new initiatives will enable creative minds to take advantage of and monetize their advanced skills to increase and diversify streams of income, develop cross-sector activities that will augment their artistic practice, and provide an outline for future artists to create sustainable careers in the changing arts economy.

Our vision of success

The vision of Dance New Amsterdam (DNA) is to support the artistry, longevity, and sustainable careers of dance artists in the United States, and to offer a meaningful and flexible range of services and opportunities to artists over extended periods of time. DNA has pursued this vision for nearly 30 years, and is currently implementing a wide-reaching strategy in response to the crisis of the arts philanthropy to encourage, develop and support artists as they incorporate entrepreneurial business initiatives into their practices, which will ensure longevity and sustainability of their careers in the arts.

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DNA aims to enable creative minds to take advantage of and monetize their advanced skills.

About
Dance New Amsterdam is New York’s leading contemporary dance artist development center, and supports artists’ vision as they train, create and develop their individual voice and place in today’s cultural community. DNA develops new audiences for dance by bridging diverse communities and exploring dance’s role in the sustainability of the performing and visual arts.

  • This is an amazing challenge and it is offering DNA the opportunity to shout from the roof tops: our dance studios, theater, galleries, artists, students, dance lovers, web site and social media sites that We Support the Arts through Innovation! Administrative, Business, Producing and Cultural innovations! We’ve been faced with Challenges since we made the promise to the city, to the dance community in NYC, the U.S.A and abroad, and the artists to create a professional home and atmosphere! We keep fighting because dance and cultural innovations are worth it and valuable! Vote and help DNA and the dance community by shouting it from your roof tops!

    • Jeremy Havens

      Dance New Amsterdam is truly a unique place that supports not just dancers, but the artist-as-entrepreneur and therefore deserves all the support it can get! We’re not just shouting it from the rooftops, we’re shouting it from the mountain tops in the beautiful Hudson Valley too! Go DNA!

    • jacqueline

      dance new amsterdam has brought a wonderful exciting dance world to the downtown area and to those who love an innovative experience. I LVE N THE DOWNTOWN AREA AND WE HAD NOTHING HERE UNTIL DANCE NEW AMSTERDAM. I LOVE THE BALLET CLASSES AND EVERY FRIDAY IF YOU ARE A MEMBER THEY HAVE A FREE INTERESTING INTRODUCTION TO A TEACHER THAT YOU ARE UNFAMILIAR WITH AND A DANCE STYLE THAT MIGT INTERST YOU. ALSO WELCOME TO NON MEMBERS FOR A FEE ITS A BEAUTIFUL COMPLEX WITH A BEAUTIFUL THEATER AND STUDIOS BOTH LARGE AND SMALLER. THEY ARE A WONDERFUL SCHOOL. THEIR MODERN JAZZ IS EXQUISITE TO WATCH THROUGH THE WINDOWS OF THE STUDIOS WHILE WAITING FOR YOUR OWN CLASS. THEY DEFINITLY SHOULD BE FUNDED AS THE RENTS HAVE BECOME RIDICULOUS

  • wonderful organization, well worth supporting

  • Linda Pehrson

    Deserves more support.

  • I really believe in the mission of Dance New Amsterdam and the leadership of Catherine Peila.
    DNA supports and fosters the work of professional dancers, dance students dance teachers, arts journalists, arts entrepreneurs, artists as well as artists in related disciplines such as music , poetry, photography, film, video, sculpture. DNA is about community. They connect the downtown community : workers,restauranteurs, and shops in their area to dance. This is extremely important. DNA is an inspiring and valuable organization… a beacon in the dance world of NYC. Go Dance New Amsterdam!

    • thank you all for.supporting us! remember you’re supporting a global community when you vote for dna and you’re keeping hundreds of artists and their cohorts employed as long as DNA is here and dancing!

  • Vince Benvenuto

    Needs and deserves support !!!

    This place is magic !

    Supporting so many artists in various fields…SO MUCH LOVE FOR DNA !!

  • DNA is an incredible creative engine in the dance ecology of New York City. It well deserves generous support.

    • sophia

      They deserve it!

  • I Vote for Dance New Amsterdam.

  • Paul O’Keefe

    I Voted For Dance New Amsterdam, Because After Reading About ALL The GOOD They Do, THEY Most Certainly Deserve It.

  • Laurie Van Wieren

    I have always heard good things about Dance New Amsterdam. I believe that you deserve support…but I have to say-I can not tell exactly what it is you are going to do from this writing. it looks like you have been doing these things all along.

  • Tiffany

    Yay !! DNA !

    I can’t say enough wonderful things about DNA ! I never thought we had this much support from our community. DNA has touched so many lives. CHANGED so many lives ! This means the world to me !! We made it DNA !! We did this !!

    The love and care you generously show the souls that walk through your doors has been reciprocated back to you, straight from all of us, your supporters. We’re family. Till the end we shall remain so. So much love to you all for taking the time. A great life teacher of my always tells me that “Love takes time and love makes time.” Well DNA….we take and make the time for one another and that’s what makes this place home !

    So much love to you all,
    Tiff

  • Liana Segan

    DNA! DNA! DNA!

    This studio has been a part of my life since I was 10 years old. The dancers, choreographers, artists, movers, lovers that enter these walls truly inspire. From class to rehearsal to performances, these walls have housed it all. Yes, they are a bit dirty, but what is downtown dance without a little grunge?

    As wickedly pithy as this may sound: DNA is a part of my DNA. There is a magic in the air that makes you feel at home with acclaimed dancers and renound artists. I couldn’t be more grateful for the dance education I receive here. When I chose to stop going to school for dance my initial fear was that I would’t be able to take class enough in the city nor learn in the same fashion school provides. But at the core, DNA is a school, as all dance studios should be, and when I was accepted into the Workstudy program I knew I had found my niche.

    My point being: we rock, we give so much, give us a little, so we can keep giving!!!

  • Emily G.

    It seems to me that dance probably suffers more than other art forms (i.e. art, opera, theater) from the lack of bridges to people with money. Especially in the more underground less high art spaces (companies that aren’t the ABTs of the world). Unlike other art forms – where there is a wealth/status factor in being able to purchase a piece of artwork, see opera at the MET or even see ABT – dance doesn’t carry that status symbol. And while Broadway and non-Broadway theater have more audience support because like movies – it’s the English language and even non actors can understand what’s going on – DANCE is a vocabulary onto itself. And with that, the people who can really appreciate dance are either people within the dance space already or those rare people how stumble the love for it.

    So it seems that if DANCE is really to have RELEVENCE that would warrant MONEY going into it – You have to create BRIDGES between the business community and dance, between the dance community and other non-profits and also through individuals. Dancers who for example – can work in business, graphic design, finance that have many skills (so they don’t just live in “poverty”) but can feed themselves as well as spread who they are within those fields.

    To me – the 21st century artist is one who is business savvy. Knows and loves money, can speak intelligently about the world and economy – and can be savvy branding themselves on the web about their dance but also their whole selves.

    So in creating a platform – BRIGES have to build to make dance relevant with the business community and the wealthy ($ gatekeepers) – so that patronage could happen. But also, how to link other non-profits and dance so that any event isn’t just about dance – but also something involved with Childhood Hunger for example. P.S. There is has been a HUGE growth in the social impact space and there is $ spent there. There is a wonderful opportunity to link dance with some of these causes. Take a look at http://www.echoinggreen.org for example. Each year, they give 75k in sponsorship for people/organizations that are trying to create a better world.

    Lastly, the 21st century artist – can’t be afraid of their own shadows. They have to feel empowered to be savvy and make and like MONEY and/or demonstrate how through dance – they are creating a better world/community. Forget the starving artist ideal. The idea that a dancer emotionally beats themselves up because they are not dancing for a living seems like a silly idea to me. It seems as silly as a business ex who has to hide his love for ballroom dancing because of the stigma involved. It’s all about embodying the full humanness to everything. So why not train in business, graphic design, writing, web creation while dancing- that way dancers feel empowered as individuals and can bring over that sense of entrepreneurship into their dancing (and produce their own work). Also, by engaging with the wider world – maybe these same individuals can find bridges themselves.

  • Gianluca

    In response to Question 1:

    Every artist’s needs are different and it might be that the most valuable resource needed is knowledge. An artist needs to make ends meet. Needs something flexible but something that won‘t destroy the body like bar tending or waiting tables. The artist does some jewelry and clothes design or yoga and fitness training? Maybe DNA could provide consultation for artists who want to know how to set themselves up in the land of the self-employed with what they have. It could be based on the Association of the Bar which refers people to lawyers for a heavily discounted rate. There could be a pool of business lawyers who would offer either a heavily discounted or free consultation on patenting, setting up a corporation, contracts, franchises, etc. It could be beneficial for newly qualified lawyers who need the practice and lawyers who want to drum up new business as well as giving an artist ideas on how to turn their talents into a rent cheque.