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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.

DanaP223

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I have attended multiple events that were curated by chashama, and each time I had a blast. The art was beautiful, the performances were captivating and the chashama staff were fantastic. I had a lot of questions about getting my own space and the staff members I was able to speak to were super helpful and easy to talk to. I have now applied for my own space and am considering an upstate residency. Go chashama!

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.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Living as a "starving artist" is especially hard in an urban area like New York. With so many museums and Music and Arts losing government funding, artists sometimes give up their passions for security and comfort. Chashama, a non-profit organization, provides the resources necessary to fuel the creativity of these artists. By extension, Chashama is supporting forward thinking, which is so vital to our society's progression. Even more so, Chashama's staff is supportive and friendly. Go to one Chashama event and you'll leave with a few friends and more than a handful of contacts. As a volunteer I found the Chashama staff to be very efficient. Chashama is very considerate of their volunteers' time. I feel Chashama deserves recognition for thief contributions.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began volunteering with Chashama this year when I became aware of their mission and immediately realized that I would like to assist this wonderful organization. It has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have recently made, as I have immensely enjoyed attending their events as well as meeting their enthusiastic staff and fellow volunteers, whom are so dedicated and committed to the cause. Given the shortage of affordable real-estate in the NYC area, the service that they provide cannot be overemphasized! Although I am not an artist, I have always appreciated the artistic community and will gladly support an organization that helps nurture artists, to help them flourish and grow to accomplish and achieve their visions and goals.

Donor

Rating: 5

Chashama does not merely help ameliorate some of the staggering financial burdens inherent in the creation of great works, but they also help foster and strengthen our culture of artistic community involvement. It's surprising to me that there are not more organizations like this to help match artists with affordable work space in other cities. We could really use a Chashama here in San Francisco.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love Chashama! Every event I've attended has been full of wonderful, friendly, helpful people. The artists that bring together always have interesting and original pieces to share. The environment is warm and welcoming. I look forward to each and every Chashama event I hear about. Their commitment to their vision is unsurpassed.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Fantastic events, outreach and artist support. Truly a cornerstone of the New York art community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

chashama is a fantastic organization! I am honored to be given the opportunity to work for chashama and assist them in carrying out their mission to help artists flourish! They repurpose buildings in transition, invest in neighborhoods, foster local talent, and sustain a range of creativity, commerce and culture.

1 Danisa A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Chashama is an amazing organization that really opens its gallery for all to see. Their amazing events, gallery openings and other projects brings in people who aren't normally the "artsy" type. I myself am far from being an artist, but came into this appreciating art. And helping Chashama was a way to help artist and enjoy their work. We all can benefit from what they are able to create. I was able to meet many amazing people and hope to continue participating with Chashama.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I helped out at their Gala, early summer, that took place in Anita's way, near Times Square. It was a great event and the coordinators were really organized in supervising their volunteers. They were specific in what they wanted each of us to do and really professional in their handling guests and workers. I liked their efficiency and overall love for detail that they displayed at the gala. I would gladly help out again.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with chashama at Open Studios and Go Brooklyn weekend. As an artist in Greenpoint I wanted to be able to help out other artists as well as this organization, which is to say the least, extremely beneficial for artists in NYC. Not only did I meet some great visitors, but I had the chance to meet artists in chashama's amazing studio spaces. Being that the studios are far away from my space and where I live in Williamsburg, I may have never been able to meet so many great people. Chashama was organized, inviting, and motivated to bring awareness to Open Studios. It was really a joy to volunteer with them and I will do it again hands down.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

chashama has a great staff and is a fun organization to work with. As a former Intern, I learned the ins and outs of Non-Profit Arts Administration and I gained a lot of valuable experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I helped work the front desk during one of Chashama's open studios in Brooklyn. The experience was delightful, and the people I met from Chashama were extraordinarily enthusiastic about the work they were doing. I highly suggest Chashama for anyone looking to volunteer in the art field.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer for the BAT Open Studios, I was very impressed by Chashama's level of organization and welcoming staff. I had a lot of fun greeting guests and answering their questions. Before I knew it, six hours flew by and I left for the day with a smile on my face.

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.

10

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Working with Chashama was a wonderful experience for The Arcade. We were able to stage a peformance-art production in a much higher profile location than we would have without Chashama's support, and our access to their technical and publicity resources made a huge difference in the success of our production. We'll continue producing with Chashama as long as they'll have us!

7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

chashama has been my art mama since 2005, providing me with support, nurturance, space to grow and experiment, and a vibrant artistic community to collaborate with and enjoy. I have created at least 1 installation in a chashama space every year since '05 and look forward to continuing to do so. I love using the chashama spaces to birth new works and I am familiar enough with the spaces to be able to address their eccentricities in my design. I am pretty independent with my technical needs but should I have a questions I know I can give a call and help is moments away (at least verbally). For me, and many others, chashama really does provide the space that artists desperatly need to create, try, fail, succeed, and most importantly grow.

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 4

chashama has given me the opportunity to bring my work outside of my studio work space and install it in a public space. The experience of having a solo show through this organization has been very rewarding both as a self-directed challenge for myself and as a way to gather response from an audience

9

Client Served

Rating: 5

chashama is the greatest of all time. good spaces to work in, a number of galleries to display work in and the best organization to develop a body of work. they support more artists than anyone in NYC and beyond. Period.

7

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I enjoy being introduce to art and artist that I probably would never have know of . and I find myself searching out all of the spaces in my travels when time permits.

6

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I am so grateful for Chashama, this amazing not for profit organization that rents affordable studios to artists.I have been in my Chashama painting studio for three years. This awesome space allows me to work on a larger scale: To be able to have the space to work on 5 paintings at once. Thanks to Chashama, As I am part of a community that surrounds me and supports the art that I make, by way of unlimited opportunities to exhibit work including an annual open studio week end. I am so thankful and in awe of Anita and her staff for what they do,what they have accomplished so far, and what they plan to accomplish in the near future.

13

Client Served

Rating: 5

I've been an artist in Chashama's studio residency program for three years. In that time, they have provided me with an affordable studio space that is close to home, they've given me solo shows and participation in group shows, they've provided me access to gallery spaces, and coordinated open studios to increase my visibility as an artist. They are always accessible, very hands-on, and always working on new ways to promote the creation of new artworks by their constantly growing roster of resident artists. They've fostered an art community in a developing area, and continue to work with pre-existing local art groups on various projects. I am eternally grateful to Chashama for giving me the space to create my art, for giving me the opportunity to share my process with an incredible community of artists with residencies in the same building, and for encouraging me to share my artistic contributions with the world at large. Specifics: my studio is about 150 square feet with two large south facing windows. It's ten blocks from my house. I spend between 3 and 6 hours there every day. Chashama has a rolling admissions policy: they contacted me when a studio opened up in my exact vicinity, which was about 8 months after I first applied.

8

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Chashama has many interactive storefront displays and exhibits in the midtown Manhattan area. I have immensely enjoyed watching reactions of passers-by, especially the space they currently have on West 44th Street. Chashama has a wonderful effect on midtown Manhattan to delight tourists and cause people who work in the area to think of larger life-affirming issues during their daily commute. Thanks Chashama!

9

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The storefront exhibitions I have seen have been smart and unexpected. They seem to be really exciting opportunities for the participating artists.

7

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

They excel in creating a space and professional opportunities for artists to develop their work - they are completely focused with a dedicated crew.

7

Client Served

Rating: 5

My name is Sylvie Covey. As an artist I have known chashama since its debut and have had the chance to see this organization grow into what it is today: Chashama is the best non-profit organization for the arts. It provides work space, exhibition space and art venues to performing artists, musicians, Visual arts and so on. The staff is hard working, kind and efficient. I have had two solo shows in Midtown through chashama and both were successful. I continue to participate to all chashama events and I am a faithful supporter.

8

Client Served

Rating: 4

I have had two shows of my paintings through chashama, one in 2006 and the most recent in 2009. Both events were extremely positive. I now live in Maine so there were quite a few logistics to work through. The organization and staff made that process very smooth. The physical spaces provided excellent exposure, but the personnel were what made the experience so great. I got a lot of help from Darryl Hell. It's a wonderful concept and one that is carried out very well. I applaud chashama.

11

Client Served

Rating: 5

New York City has become prohibitively expensive for artists to live, work and create. Chashama came up with a brilliant plan to take temporarily vacant properties and turn them into galleries, performance spaces and studios. As a local artist I have benefited by receiving free storefront space donated by chashama for an art installation. Also, I appreciate chashama’s investment in my community – I’m thrilled to see previously empty buildings filled with exciting, provocative works of art and performance. And as a member of the audience I have attended chashama’s film festivals, performances and shows. Chashama is bringing back the vibrant, creative, diverse New York that has been slipping away. I was given a storefront space in Times Square over the December holidays. It was an opportunity for me to show my work to thousands of viewers. I made art in the space – as well as exhibiting my work – so that the visitors walking by the Times Square window could come in and meet a local working artist. The chashama staff was an absolute pleasure to work with The technical director, Darryl Hell, painted and spackled the space so that it was gallery-ready when I arrived. Darryl was there with extra lighting and advice, if I needed it. The chashama staff also did the publicity for the show and took wonderful photographs, documenting the show. Chashama also has a great listserve with great opportunities for artists.