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2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit

chashama, Inc.

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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

50 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

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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.

Advisor

Rating: 5

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.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

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!

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

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.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

chashama is an organization who not only gives artists the space to create but also nurtures their artists.

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!

Danny9

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've had several studio spaces through chashama. The connections and community fostered through this organization have had an immeasurable impact on my artistic career.

Kristin34

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have had a number of studio spaces through chashama and each has resulted in new artistic developments and lasting and supportive friendships.

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

Ted_4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have had the pleasure of playing(some might call it work) with Chashama for almost all of it's history. My friend helped put it together and it's been growing ever since. Each time I do something with them, my appreciation for the arts grows!! KEEP GROWING CHASHAMA THE WORLDS NEEDS MORE OF YOU!!!!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been fortunate to have been involved with Chashama for many years. The service that they provide to the community that they work in , is second to none. Space is the bread and butter of there services. In the metro NY area this is a huge financial burden on any individual or organization or individual. They provide money, artistic support, administration support, facility support and act as a liaison between various NYC agencies. What they do for the art community,youth,and other non profit groups, may never be reproduced

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

i've known chashama since it was founded and the great inspiration through Reza Abdoh. Can't say enough good things about it. I've been a performance artist at the 461 gallery, saw great art in other people's spaces there and at the Army Terminal, plus storefronts and attended incredible parties, fundraisers and experienced the happy energy of all artists supported. When I presented my work, I would never have been able to find such a great space for the same low rate, which made the work possible. Thank you for being around so long and repurposing space to so many artists. Looking forward to seeing and doing more!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

5 stars. I have been volunteering chashama for a year and they help to me a lot in internship and They develop my art knowledges and skills. Also, I have deep connection with staff member and artists of chashama. They are approachable and willing to help you with events and studio. Keep it up the good work chashama!

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.