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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

10 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.

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!

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.