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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Performing Arts

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.

Community Stories

15 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2 Andrew52

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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!

1 Roy_9

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Roo Z.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

The aspect of chashama's portfolio that deserves special recognition is it's history, trailblazing vision, and the hope it gives for connecting New Yorkers to progressive socially responsible corporate leaders.

The organization was established in 1995, decades before the current trend in digital pop-up civic spaces which is an important area of focus among Urbanists, Designers, Tech Entrepreneurs (you can verify this by checking out research coming from The New School, NYU, and Columbia's GSAPP and reading publications like The Atlantic's City Lab or following the work of organizations like Spontaneous Interventions.

chashama's work with local artists over the past 20 years has created a very powerful grassroots New York City voice that preserves a dialogue around the best of what's emerging in the fine arts and performance, as well as new areas of art such as Game Design, Video, and Digital Art.

Under the leadership of Anita Durst, the chashama network feels like a family, and actually is an important cultural scene of innovators, thinkers, creatives, and doers who are shaping the NYC cultural experience by talking about the value of public discourse in refining the zeitgeist of our times.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The NYC up-and-coming art world is incomplete without chashama. They create incredible opportunities for just the right people. chashama greatly adds to the flavor of this city with their wonderful events and wacky staff (whom are also undeniably approachable and well-focused). This organization has exposed me to so many things that I was unfamiliar with before!

Todd16

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have enjoyed and benefited from my association with chashama since the early stages of my art career. My early shows with chashama lead to more exposure and a further reach for my work. Anita Durst and her team are supportive and friendly and genuinely care about the artist they exhibit. Thank you Anita and thank you chashama for all that you have done and your continued support.

Todd Monaghan, Artist

ebwally

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

chashama is there for artists in a way that no other nonprofit is. Building community, providing affordable space and establishing a way for art-making to occur outside of academia and the mainstream. For so many years chashama has given back to New York all the beauty and provocation that her artists can muster.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

My husband and I are both chashama studio artists and have helped organize the performances at the annual gala. Without chashama we would not have an affordable space to create our works of art and we would not be able to make a living as an artist without both our studio and the support of the organization.
chashama goes over and above to give artists spaces to create and display their art while bringing art into the everyday lives of New Yorkers and presenting tourists with a great example of how NYC supports a creative environment.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

chashama has, since 2005, offered me access to a temporary project studio, a week-long residency in upstate NY, and most recently access to an empty storefront where I presented my work for two weeks. Each situation has been important to me as a professional artist, and the staff has always been courteous, efficient and very warm and helpful.
The structure and nature of this organization allows it to both be flexible and efficient while offering great opportunities to self-directed artists without micromanaging their projects. If you are based in the NYC area and have an idea you want to try out, or a short- or long-term need for space, this is definitely the first organization to approach.

6 malleable

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

In a city oversaturated with artists and not enough spaces for those artists to create work, Chashama miraculously gives space generously and freely. Chashama offered my company (Malleable Dance Theater) space, support, and enthusiasm for its' first NYC performance.