chashama, Inc.

Rating: 4.92 stars   50 reviews

Issues: Arts & Culture

Location: 675 Third Ave New York NY 10017 USA

Mission: chashama empowers artists in New York City with space to create by transforming unutilized real estate into work and presentation space.
Results: chashama, which means “to have vision” in Farsi, was founded in 1995 by Anita Durst, to celebrate and honor the legacy of theater artist Reza Abdoh. The organization initially focused on the production of theater performances in vacant properties along 42nd Street in Manhattan. Durst began fielding many requests from artists asking to use the spaces during off-nights. Recognizing that the lack of affordable studio and presentation space was a great threat to sustaining a diverse, dynamic, and provocative cultural environment in New York City, Durst’s vision was to find a way to connect artists and performers with untapped reserves of temporarily vacant commercial real estate. In response to artists’ need for space, Durst gained access to other buildings on the same block, creating a strong presence on the block of 42nd Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway. chashama sponsored nearly 700 gallery shows and performances during its first five years. In 2007, chashama expanded into studio spaces at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, 37th Street in Manhattan, and on 126th Street in West Harlem, and has operated with a strong presence in these neighborhoods ever since. chashama also programs exhibition, gallery, and performance spaces all over New York City, including Queens and the Bronx. One of the flagship spaces of chashama when we had many spaces along 42nd street in midtown manhattan. Now is the site of a through-block between the Conde Nast and Bank of America buildings where performances may be put on from our performances program Since 1995 chashama has supported the work of over 12,000 artists in New York City through subsidized studio space, and free exhibition, rehearsal and performance space. We have brought cultural programming to neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs, including areas where the arts are not already well represented. In 2013 we programmed 150 public events in 21 venues, and supported 130 studio artists. In 2014 we are programming 26 venues, supporting 126 studio artists, and are on track to present a similarly large number of public events. chashama connects artists with vacant real estate - redistributing the untapped resources available in our urban landscape by partnering with private and public property owners. By structuring a mission around this goal, chashama has become a major force in the NYC arts community by supporting the work of an increasing number of emerging artists every year.
Target demographics: artists
Direct beneficiaries per year: 537 artists gain access to free and subsidized gallery, rehearsal and performance space
Geographic areas served: New York City
Programs: affordable work and presentation space.

2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars   Featured Review

1 person found this review helpful

chashama is one of the most effective organizations with which I have worked. As an organization, they under promise and over deliver. They have made a major contribution to the revitalization of Downtown Jamaica. I simply cannot say enough good things about their mission, business model and leadership.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

chashama is a wonderful NYC based organization that gives artists the tools they need to thrive. We had the pleasure of conducting professional practices workshops for artists via chashama and it's clear that the community and support they provide is unparalleled!

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

chashama not only provides un/under-represented artists such as myself with incredible exhibition spaces and exposure, but also an opportunity to sell work at reasonable prices (sans steep 50% standard gallery commissions), keeping only a modest 25% of sales which goes right back into program support--this allows artists to recoup expenses, pay bills, and keep creating, while also teaching artists that in order to benefit from opportunities, one must support the institutions and organizations that provide them...a message that is not taught in art schools nor in the gallery world. chashama is incredible!

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Rating: 5 stars  

chashama is such a hard-working organization that truly supports all artists in New York City. Transforming over hundreds of unused spaces into presentation and work space throughout all 5 boroughs is an incredible accomplishment. I had the pleasure of volunteering at many events in the past and at each event, the organization shows true dedication to their work and are always a delight.

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Rating: 5 stars  

My experience in the spaces this organization manages has been uniformly positive. Open Studios events, gallery exhibits, performances in theater spaces, display windows and site specific venues have all introduced me to levels and kinds of art I might not otherwise have become aware of, as I have often encountered them in the kinds unexpected places chashama programs with artists and art.

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Rating: 5 stars  

chashama's work of taking unused properties in New York City is crucial to the development of the arts community. They have often been the first show for a lot of emerging artists, when it's so difficult to expose work in this highly competitive arena.

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Rating: 5 stars  

chashama is doing incredible work transforming vacant spaces throughout the city into spontaneous, exciting venues for experimentation! I was immediately intrigued passing by a performance happening in a storefront window. Stumbling upon chashama helps me remember the spirit of NYC and the magic of stumbling on the unexpected. The weird, the beautiful, the thought-provoking - I think they do it all and they do it well!

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Rating: 5 stars  

Affordable studio space for an artist is hard to come by. Chashama provides a much needed refuge for artists on a budget to create their dreams. The nice thing is that it is not short-term. I've had a studio in The Brooklyn Army Terminal for a few years and am ever so grateful. It is quiet and conducive to creating with minimal intrusions. And chashama provides other support for its resident artists, making it easy to settle into a great community and go to work. I highly appreciate every moment.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

As a long term visual artist-in-residence, as well as the executive director of the youth arts organization Project YEAH, Inc. (www.projectyeah.org) that has partnered with chashama to provide educational arts programming for at-risk youth and youth offenders that truly does make a social difference, I heartily endorse chashama as a vital and important component of the NYC arts community. Chashama provides opportunities for a plethora of artists of all expressions (opportunities that are simply not available through other arts nonprofits). Most artist residencies are sadly not affordable for most struggling visual artists, nor do they supply continuous, varied opportunity and support. Chashama also remains artistically broad-based promoting all artistic expressions and styles. Founder Anita Durst's personal dedication and vision continues to shine through the organization despite chashama's continuous growth. I am always proud to continue my relationship with chashama.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Restrict growth to provide the very best of services for long-term chashama artists and promote their careers as much as possible. They are chashama treasures. Few nonprofits bring forth such support to the table in the long run.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I feel privileged to sit on the board of chashama. I was introduced to the charity by a friend who invited me to the gala. Immediately upon entering I went into full sensory overload! The vast number of performances and fabulous costumes were mind blowing. The energy at the gala was like nothing I have experienced at any gala prior. I knew I needed to find a way to become involved. I met with the founder, Anita Durst, and learned how this is a true passion project and every effort comes from her genuine love for art, artists, and NYC. chashama helps numerous artists and has had an enormously positive impact on different NYC neighborhoods. It is an amazing charity that I am proud to be a part of.

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