As a result of grants from the City Parks Foundation, New York City’s parks have been seeing more programming throughout the summer.
Throughout the pandemic, New Yorkers went to parks as a safe space for social distancing with friends and family. After seeing the need for more programming during this time with many events going virtual, the City Parks Foundation launched two opportunities this year to help get more programming into local parks: the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund and GREEN / ARTS LIVE NYC.
GREEN / ARTS LIVE NYC was created by The Culture in Parks and Plazas Coalition, which the City Parks Foundation is a part of, and was designed to equitably provide financial, consulting and production support to NYC artists, arts groups, cultural, and community-based organizations and volunteer stewardship groups in all New York City boroughs, while the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund was created to support stewardship organizations that care for New York City’s parks and open spaces. After taking in several applications, the two awarded grants to 109 different programs and organizations.
“At City Parks Foundation, our mission is to bring programming to parks. It can be anything from tennis lessons and environmental education for kids to performance arts programming,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “In a normal year, SummerStage serves as the main performing arts in anywhere from 15 to 20 parks, with 80 to 100 shows presenting, almost all of which are free. We were talking with funders about the need to make sure still going to be free programming parks, as parks have been so important as safe places to congregate. When the city passed the Open Culture legislation that allowed arts organizations to perform in streets, it excluded parks and neighborhood plazas. We wanted to make sure free performances in parks, in particular, could come back.”
City Parks Foundation is no stranger to funding programming in parks — every year the organization will grant funding to volunteer groups who put on park programming. However, as the pandemic continued throughout the city, the leadership within the City Park Foundation knew that more needed to be done to keep parks going.
GREEN / ARTS LIVE NYC will award 45 NYC-based organizations over $225,000 in grant funds while the NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund will award nearly $2M via 64 grants to NYC-based small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations. The organizations were picked after undergoing a review process.
Lubov said that many of the grants were targeted towards areas that were hit hard during the pandemic.
“A lot of communities were hit hard, and we focused our grants on those communities that were the hardest hit,” said Lubov. “Using SummerStage as an example, Central Park doesn’t need funding, while at Mullaly Park in the Bronx, there’s not a lot of performance happening. So that went where we thought it would be important to make a grant.”
The programming kicked off this summer with many different programs to 50 different parks, including activities such as dance, opera, drumming, film festivals, workshops for kids, and printmaking, just to name a few.
“There will be something for everyone. Performances are tailored to the community they are in,” said Lubov. “For example, an African film festival is coming to Staten Island near their West African community. We’re bringing local culture to your culture through the programming.”
For a full lineup of programming or more information about the grant programs, visit cityparksfoundation.org.