Future Culture

Re-imagining and activating underutilized public spaces on the North Shore

Staten Island Arts, the local arts council for Richmond County, along with its Future Culture partner Design Trust for Public Space, is excited to announce the two pilot projects selected as part of Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island’s Waterfront. These projects are the outcome of a collaboration that has, for the past two years, examined how cultural activities can enrich the publicly and privately held open spaces of Staten Island’s North Shore. The Future Culture project recently released a set of initial recommendations for long-term strategies for neighborhood revitalization, sustainability and equitable economic development.
Following a competitive application process, the two pilot projects were chosen for their connection to the Future Culture Initial Recommendations, visionary concepts, artistic merit, and prominent roles given to local artists and residents. Both projects are made possible by City grant funding awarded to Staten Island Arts by the NYC Department of Small Business Services (SBS). Earlier this year, the NYC SBS’s Neighborhood 360° Grant program invested $1.54 million to support commerce in Downtown Staten Island through partnerships with local businesses and city agencies.
Selected Future Culture Pilot Projects:

  • Sonic Gates

    A team led by Staten Island-based composer/touring performer/media artist Volker Goetze will construct a series of sound sculptures at various sites along the waterfront, on Bay Street, and in Tappen Park, from St. George to Stapleton. This project brings together SI MakerSpace—with sculptors including DB Lampman and Alassane Drabo—and other cultural groups to fabricate these sculptures. Additionally, school groups will help construct the sonic sculptures through a cooperative educational experience. An inaugural day festivities will feature a progressive parade in which local cultural groups will perform at each location in the summer of 2018. Sonic Gates will advance Future Culture’s recommendations to promote exploration of the Staten Island North Shore and re-imagine underused “in-between” spaces.
    “My idea for Sonic Gates came from a desire to create something playful, beautiful, and inviting for everyone. It will be an adventure that is educational and fun for families, art and music lovers, and tourists alike.”
    – Volker Goetze

  • Court Yard Fridays

    Kevin Washington (a Staten Island native, retired NYC Firefighter, and community organizer)—with Homer Jackson, Director of the Philadelphia Jazz Project, and Lynn Washington, an experienced graphic designer—will host a series of weekend concerts in the summer of 2018 in the courtyard between Borough Hall and the old Supreme Court building to exhibit world-class performers with connections to Staten Island alongside local arts groups. In addition to the performance, food trucks and restaurants will offer food to complement the musical styles on show. This project will bring together various community groups and members to enjoy this series of celebrations. Court Yard Fridays will pilot Future Culture’s recommendations to organize unique events of scale and regularity, and to activate existing, underutilized public space.
    “I shaped my proposal to address two recommendations – Activate underused public space and Amplify local culture. The Court Yard Gardens, tucked between Borough Hall and the old Supreme Court building, is an ideal concert environment – a park setting where Staten Island residents, ferry commuters and tourists can relax and enjoy music, conversation and local food.” – Kevin Washington


  • Future Culture Pilot Project Finalists

    Flyway Home
    Diane Matyas and Kristi Pfister
    Flyway Home, a three-part project, presents large-scale metal nests attached to buildings, two-dimensional birds silhouetted on facades, and a sunflower planting site along Bay Street in order emphasize the parallels between the coming and going of birds and people. Flyaway Home is conceived and designed to emphasize Staten Island’s unique characteristics of nesting (home space), nature (greenspace and fauna), and the daily movement/flocking of commuters, visitors, and Islanders.
    “Being part of a process of nurturing your neighborhood, making it beautiful, following up on the history of other people who tried to do that, saying that this is your neighborhood and you should care about it…You can make a difference,” said Diane Matyas.
    For Birds, Bees, Butterflies, and Busses
    Kaja Kühl, Zhen Quan, Dissa Raras, and Paul Wang
    For Birds, Bees, Butterflies, and Busses celebrates biodiversity on Staten Island through four installations along Bay Street that would raise awareness about species that populate the area and encourage more biodiversity by serving as a hospitable urban habitat. Built with sustainable materials near bus stops, each sculpture would represent a unique species and encourage humans to learn more about the ecosystems of Staten Island.
    “A lot of the times you don’t see what you’re losing until you realize it’s too late. Then you have to relocate the things back that were originally displaced by urbanization. And that takes even longer than how you kicked them out originally,” said Paul Wang.
    New Earth Resiliency Training Module (NERTM)
    Tattfoo Tan
    NERTM promotes the education and development of individuals and communities through workshops that emphasize the improvement of skills and spirit. Focusing particularly on youth engagement, the Rites of Passage workshop would help the North Shore community to rethink their relationship to place by highlighting how an individual’s transition between moments in life connects to the development of the community at large.
    “Development doesn’t have to be tangible, development could be making the space better, making the community stronger, tighter instead of just keep on building and building. You could be reusing and repurposing and opening up spaces that have been tightly controlled,” said Tattfoo Tan.
    The Mystic Portals of MERC
    Kelly Vilar and Ray Zwaryc
    The Mystic Portals of MERC connects the creativity of working artists and the imagination, memory, and hopes of community members to build and design boats at eight locations along the North Shore. The boats emphasize the community’s rich history as a Maritime corridor and voyage forward to promote inclusive and sustainable development along the shore. This proposal will meet the objectives of the MERC (Maritime, Education, Recreation and Cultural corridor) plan.
    “I really believe that Staten Island can be a model in the future for a lot of things. We can be a model for private development for public-private partnerships where we really do something that contributes to the education, well-being, and economic development of the people that live here already,” said Kelly Vilar.

Questions? Concerns? Please contact Elizabeth Bennett, Executive Director at 718-477-3329 x 1002 or ebennett@statenislandarts.org.

  • About Future Culture

    Staten Island’s waterfront, home to hundreds of artists and arts organizations in the Naturally Occurring Cultural District of St. George, Tompkinsville, and Stapleton, hosts multiple development projects currently underway. This diverse downtown community faces difficult challenges in planning for cohesive, quality public space. (Some of these are documented in this 2014 study completed in partnership with Cornell University’s Graduate Planning Studio and the Design Trust for Public Space.)
    We believe that arts and cultural activities play an important role in equitable development. As the local arts council, Staten Island Arts supports an array of activities that serve as dynamic drivers for community change.
    In 2014 Staten Island Arts applied to an open call by the Design Trust for Public Space to create Future Culture, a project to foster our unique cultural communities and ensure their role in the future character of the North Shore’s developing waterfront. Those who work in the creative and cultural sectors are often cited for making a location desirable, and Staten Island Arts wants to make sure the existing cultural and artistic assets are supported during this time of change—and after too!
    Design Trust awarded Fellowships to a team of professionals, including Staten Island artist Lisa Dahl, to work with the community in developing and communicating a vision for arts and cultural involvement in the public realm of the rapidly changing waterfront. The Fellows’ work, based on intensive local engagement (detailed below), will lead to actionable design, planning, and policy recommendations to share with arts and cultural practitioners, key public officials, and private stakeholders by early 2017. We aim to pilot these recommendations through public art installations—to be chosen through an open call in 2017—for activating public space along the waterfront (see below).
    If you’re interested in being involved in the project, contact Staten Island Participatory Art Fellow Lisa Dahl at futureculture@designtrust.org or Equitable Public Space Fellow Carlos Mandeville at cmandeville@designtrust.org or 212-695-2432 x7.
    It is important to us to give meaningful roles to community members in a number of ways, including:
    • An open-house info session was held on October 26, 2016 at Staten Island Arts’ Culture Lounge to share about the project.
    • “Office hours” with Lisa Dahl by appointment. Office hours are open to anyone who would like to share ideas and learn more about the project. Sign up by emailing Lisa at futureculture@designtrust.org.
    • A working group of 17 community members met weekly in November and December to represent the diverse cultural communities of the North Shore and will reconvene this fall.
    • Meetings with public and private stakeholders.
    • Presentations or activities at community events — invite us at futureculture@designtrust.org!
    On March 28, 2017, we unveiled a preliminary set of design and policy recommendations outlining strategies to realize a more more livable and connected North Shore. This meeting kicked off the first of a series of stakeholder feedback sessions to be held this spring.
    For more information about the Future Culture project team and deliverables, see Design Trust’s website.

  • About the Future Culture RFQ

    Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Creative Placemaking projects in Staten Island
    On Monday April 17, Staten Island Arts issued an RFQ for two separate Pilot Projects to connect places and people using arts and culture along Staten Island’s waterfront and the North Shore neighborhoods, including St. George, Tompkinsville and Stapleton. This RFQ seeks qualified proposers for creative placemaking projects that give a prominent role to local artists and/or communities, enhance livability in the community, and test recommendations established by Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island’s Waterfront, a joint project by Design Trust for Public Space and Staten Island Arts.
    Projects can range from built installations, ephemeral interventions, applications to vertical surfaces, reinvention of infrastructure (such as under- and overpasses, jersey barriers, and/or fencing) or performance/program activities that use culture to achieve the goals. The definition of ‘culture’ in this context is a far-reaching definition including visual arts, performance, music, food, heritage-based arts, ecology, etc.
    This Future Culture Call for Pilot Projects follows a rigorous community engagement process and seeks a qualified proposer to submit qualifications and a proposal for artistic projects that demonstrate how new development can partner with the area’s rich culture to foster livable and vibrant public spaces. These projects will be in place for up to a year or less. Selected artists/cultural organizations will be required to participate in pre- and post-evaluation of the Pilot Projects by working with the Future Culture team to develop tools to measure their project’s impact. This Call requests all applicants to identify ONE (1) OR MORE recommendation(s) within the Future Culture Objectives that they envision their project advancing.
    We highly encourage you to read the FULL RECOMMENDATIONS PDF:

    The Pilot Projects challenge public and private stakeholders to devise creative solutions to community needs. Through these temporary pilots, we will document and analyze how catalytic placemaking and placekeeping projects can help strengthen the relationships between the cultural sector and the owners and stewards of property.
    Artist Fee $15,000
    Implementation $30,000-$45,000
    This RFQ does not require you to submit a full budget at the time of application. We do ask you to provide a general description of how the $30,000-$45,000 implementation budget will be used. Outline the major project expenses aside from artist fees (i.e. fabrication, permits, materials, equipment rental, contractual services, etc.). Projects should be designed to be scaled to $30,000 in the event that the full budget is not awarded. If your project will exceed the implementation budget, please indicate how you plan to address the gap in funding. Staten Island Arts and the Design Trust for Public Space will not be responsible for providing funding exceeding $45,000 per pilot project.
    FULL RFQ GUIDELINES: https://statenislandarts.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/Future-Culture-Pilot-Call_FINAL_4.17.16.pdf
    All RFQ submissions were due online by Friday, May 12, 2017.
    We received 50 impressive, thoughtful responses detailing an array of visionary projects and activities that devise creative solutions to community needs. We were especially inspired by the fact that 74.4% were responses from Staten Island, with additional submissions from the greater NYC region, California, Poland, France, and Turkey. 43% of the applications proposed multidisciplinary projects, a testament to the strong relationships and collaborative spirit of the proposers.