Studio International Features LMCC’s Residency Programs

Posted In: LMCC in the News

See what Studio International wrote about LMCC here in a recent article about the training it takes to be an artist.

How many ways are there to train as an artist? Contrary to what you may think, perhaps not that many. You can go to art school, become an apprentice to an experienced colleague, or figure it out alone.

After a relatively brief period of schooling is over, how many ways are there to become an artist – to reach the stage where you feel moderately self-sufficient, accomplished and independent? Perhaps there are as many ways as there are artists themselves. In all cases, however, during this transitional time, artists need support – emotional, financial and institutional – that does not depend on their age or the number of years they have been making art. To find a way from the training stage to becoming a professional is not easy. There are many organisations that help artists along this path, especially in big cities. As one of the art centres of the world, New York attracts thousands of people from all corners of the globe who want to experience the intensity of its cultural life. Rare is a creative person who has not visited this city, some for a short time, some to settle.

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC)(
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is one of the most well-known non-profit organisations dedicated to the arts in New York. In existence since 1974, LMCC currently presents a host of successful programmes meant to empower artists, including grants for individuals and small arts organisations, professional development workshops and intensives, and artist residencies, among which Workspace is the most competitive. Using temporarily vacant space provided by property owners and leaseholders, LMCC hosts 15 to 20 visual artists, six to eight creative writers, and three to five performing artists and arts groups as participants in its Workspace programme, totaling about 30 residencies. In 2013-14 an entire floor at One Liberty Plaza was donated by Goldman Sachs for these studios. According to Melissa Levin, LMCC’s director of cultural programmes, in 2014 the organisation received 1,100 applications from visual artists and about 150 each from writers and performing artists. The applications are judged according to four criteria: quality of work, proposed ideas, the stage of the artist’s career (the timing of the residency must make sense in the overall development of the work), and diversity in the broad sense of the word. The Workspace programme is geared specifically to emerging artists. They may come from other countries, but must live and work in the city, because LMCC is not responsible for living arrangements. The programme provides professional development support for its participants in the form of weekly Salons, group discussions and visits from critics and curators. It is process oriented: artists are not required to finish a work or participate in an exhibition or performance as the culminating point of their residency. However, many use Open Studios as an opportunity to showcase their work. Apart from the Workspace programme, other residency support LMCC offers include Process Space, Extended Life Dance Development, Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide (SPARC) and a six-month residency in Paris. Process Space is shorter in length and is intended for mid-career artists who are preselected and invited to develop their projects at LMCC’s Arts Center at Governors Island. Extended Life is a two-year programme for 12 movement-based artists providing, in addition to residency time, the opportunity to translate an existing work on to a site in Lower Manhattan for public presentation, and personalised career support. The SPARC programme improves the quality of life of New York’s senior citizens by placing 50 artists in the city’s senior centres each year, 12 of which are in Manhattan and overseen by LMCC. The council’s bi-annual Paris residency programme – a partnership with the Mayor’s Office of the City of Paris – provides New York City-based visual artists with the opportunity to spend six months in Paris.

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