July 2011
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Archive for July, 2011

Artist Studios at Carnegie Hall, A Place That Matters

artist studio carnegie hall

Carnegie Hall was one of the first places ever nominated to our Census of Places that Matter. We feature it today, focusing not on the music hall but on the little known artist studios that for more than 100 years have existed above the hall.

Today, these artist spaces are imminently threatened with joining the lengthening list of places lost to creativity all around the city.

Andrew Carnegie added the towers and artist studios in 1894 and 1896, shortly after erecting Carnegie Hall in 1890. Over the years, many artists have lived in the studios, like John Barrymore, Charles Dana Gibson, Leonard Bernstein, Martha Graham, and Bobby Short. Others artists “just” did their work there, like Isadora Duncan and George Balanchine. Today, fifty artists remain, but a few weeks ago Carnegie Hall served them eviction papers. Now the tenants of Carnegie Hall Studio Towers are filing suit to prevent the eviction. See Jim Dwyer’s article in the New York Times on August 1, and Laura Collins-Hughes’ in The Sun on August 8.

Carnegie Hall says it needs the space for operations. The tenants and their supporters say that destroying the studios destroys a rich, more-than-century-old tradition and an irreplaceable artist’s community. It also does away with yet one more source of affordable living space for the people making the art that sustains places like Carnegie Hall.


Philanthropist Robert W. Wilson Makes Significant Challenge Grant to MAS

robert w wilson philanthropist

Retired Wall Street legend seeks to raise level of unrestricted support.

The Municipal Art Society is pleased to announce a major challenge grant from long-term MAS donor Robert W. Wilson.

With the goal of helping MAS strengthen and sustain our base of unrestricted support, the philanthropist has committed $600,000 over the next three years to match new or increased gifts of $1,000 or more on a one-for-two dollar basis, effective August 1.

“I hope that this challenge will inspire current and new MAS supporters to contribute to an organization that provides an independent voice on development and planning in New York City,” said Robert Wilson.

“Unrestricted support is the lifeline for any non profit organization, and for MAS it’s fundamental to our core advocacy, planning and public program activities,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla. “Bob Wilson’s generous challenge grant will be enormously helpful to our work.”

MAS will launch a campaign next month to urge its members and friends to “accept” the challenge and boost their annual giving.

Robert Wilson has been an annual donor to MAS for over thirty years and has occasionally made special grants, including providing most of the underwriting for the restoration of a mural by Ilya Bolotowsky on Roosevelt Island as part of our “Adopt-a-Mural” program. This is the first challenge grant he has made to MAS.

Photo: Roy Zipstein / Bernstein & Andruilli via Bloomberg


MAS Keeps Spotlight on Waterfront Access, Organizes Charrette

east river waterfront pier new york city

On Tuesday, July 26 MAS will host a design charrette to re-imagine an unused pier located between East 38th and East 41st Streets on the East River waterfront. The charrette (an intensive design workshop) is co-sponsored by local elected officials and the community board and will take place at the NYU Langone Medical Center from 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. It will include input from the community as well as the expertise of design professionals to produce a plan for the site that is realistic, innovative, and sustainable.

Recently the city announced it will begin infrastructure work on the pier, including rehabilitating its piles and decking, funded by a $13 million payment from Con Edison, the former owner of the site. The city has tapped AECOM to provide engineering, design, and planning services for the project. The potential consolidation of the U.N.’s campus may also facilitate funding for construction of elements of the project.

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Livable Neighborhoods Program: Training New Yorkers to Become Effective Neighborhood Advocates

classroom photo on livable neighborhoods

Last month, nearly one hundred people participated in the Livable Neighborhoods Training program hosted by MAS and the Center for Community Planning & Development at Hunter College. Participants turned out on a beautiful day to learn how to better engage in land use decisions in their neighborhoods. First-time and returning attendees described the panels as “eye-opening,” “informative,” and “incredibly useful.”

This semi-annual event brings together a diverse group of participants from community boards and community organizations to learn from experts with practical experience in city planning, economic development, zoning and more. Instructors included city officials, non-profit leaders, and experienced community activists. MAS designed the program to fill an information gap for new community board representatives looking to expand their knowledge base. Over time MAS has expanded the program to offer targeted training in topics like Sustainability and Advocating for Parks and Open Space and many more.

This program, generously sponsored by the Altman Foundation, is aimed at providing community activists with the knowledge they need to effectively participate in decisions that impact the livability of their neighborhoods. Since Livable Neighborhoods started in 2006, we’ve provided hands-on training to more than 700 New Yorkers (including over one third of the city’s 59 community boards).