Open Letter from Galapagos Art Space: Manifest Desiny, Galapagos Style
Galapagos Art Space wants to expand in Brooklyn , and would like to
open – or partner with - venues in Berlin, Mumbai (Bombay) and Beijing.
We’re looking for partners, both here and abroad, to team with in order to accomplish that goal.
Any decent band can rent a van, tour the country promoting themselves
and make enough money to survive while advancing their career.
Most performing artists can’t do that – and we want to change that.
We want to book an emerging artist in New York City and then send them on tour around the world.
If we can provide that kind of opportunity we think it would not only
give us a tremendous advantage in booking artists usually associated
with venues significantly larger than ours, but would also be an
incredible service to our roster of resident artists *, and most
importantly, to our audience.
How would this work?
Each Galapagos would be responsible to curate and present one week of
programming. At the end of the first week, click, everyone moves one
position. The New York artists travel to Berlin, Berlin goes to Bombay,
Bombay goes to Beijing, and Beijing comes to New York. Suddenly it’s
China in New York. Then it’s India, then Germany. Then New York comes
Imagine if you were an emerging artist on that tour. What an incredible experience that would be.
We want to expand our footprint in New York City by opening a new,
larger Galapagos Art Space that’s 300 seats big with a separate theatre
environment and a cinema. Currently we’re not big enough to accommodate
all the work we do or the audiences we attract and we can’t grow at our
Why is this important?
The canaries in New York City’s real estate gold mine – it’s emerging
artists – are no longer talking about the next show they hope to land,
they’re talking about the next city they think they can land in once
their current lease runs out.
A New York that is too expensive for the emerging arts to dream about
coming to or continue producing work in begins a tipping of the very
understanding of New York City as a cultural capital **.
So what do we do?
If artists and the best young cultural thinkers can’t see themselves
possibly affording to live here, then we’d better make them think they
can’t possibly afford to live anywhere else.
By learning to incentivize the creation of opportunity at the emergent
level. To compete against rents we have to take what we have and double
it. As the real estate market eats away at our emerging arts
infrastructure we have to find ways, often in partnership with the
City, to incentivize the creation of its replacement and expansion, or
it won’t be built. Galapagos’ role in New York’s cultural ecosystem is
to create opportunity at the emergent level.
Why is it important that this project be based in New York City?
If not it will still emerge someday, but it will most likely be based
in the European Union. We think it’s critical for the future of the
arts and the foundations of both our creative and financial industries
that it be based here, in New York City. If it’s built somewhere
else there’s no guarantee that it would even include New York
What we want to happen from sending this email:
We want to identify the key people that can help us break new ground and accomplish this growth.
We want to find people who believe it’s would be profitable to invest
financially in this idea because they believe in the emergence of a
‘new art economy’, one that replaces a culture of dependence in the
arts with a culture of independence. For ten years Galapagos has
operated profitably in New York City by earning 100% of its income.
We’re proud of that. Each month 8,000 people come to Galapagos ***.
While we don’t think our model is perfect, we do think the time is
right to perfect it.
If this project seems to be something you or someone you know would be
interested in investing in or consulting toward then please do contact
Feel free to forward this email widely.
Director, Galapagos Art Space
* We think that good performing artists should be able to create viable
full-time careers that make it possible to live solely on their work.
This year alone Galapagos will pay the emerging arts $180,000 in fees.
We want to quadruple that number, and in fact we think it’s our
responsibility to do just that.
** In the next few months’ ten off-Broadway theaters will close. Most
to make way for (very high priced) condominium development and top-end
restaurants. (Souccar; Crain’s New York 6.5.06) Those that have or are
about to close are; The Douglas Fairbanks Theater, The John Houseman
Theater, Lamb’s Theater, Manhattan Ensemble Theater, The Promenade,
Perry Street Theater, Playhouse 91, Sullivan Street Playhouse, Century
Center and Variety Arts.
If we can’t find ways to continue incubating young artists in New York then our entire cultural ecosystem begins to calcify.
The price of real estate has risen so far that, from a cultural point
of view, unless we do something concerted and effective, in three to
five years we’ll be experiencing a fundamentally different idea of what
it means to live in New York City.
*** Galapagos Art Space employs thirty-two people. Each month we
produce 140 shows that result in over 600 artists setting foot on our
stages with over 8,000 people coming to see them. We’ve helped
produce over 200 fundraising events for non-profit art and community
groups, from Amnesty International and PEN to the little dance company
and the nursery school around the corner.
We’re about to roll out a plan that covers our office staff with health
insurance and within six months we’re going to expand that to include
our nighttime staff and then our resident artists.
We’re socially missioned and profitable. Go figure.