There’s nothing like attending a free cultural program in Washington Square Park. The wide variety of performances and activities that take place in this space are an essential part of what makes it unique. While WSPC hosts a wide variety of public programs, we’re far from the only ones bringing cultural offerings for the community to enjoy. That’s why for the last 8 years, the Conservancy has helped support local community groups that bring free public programming to the Park. What started as a small fund to spread Conservancy resources to legacy events like the Washington Square Music Festival or Films on the Green has grown into a robust grant program that not only supports old school favorites, but encourages ever-evolving cultural offerings for the Park.
One of the special things about the Park is its long tradition of free, live, cultural events. For generations people have flocked to the Park for concerts, movies, dance nights, and more. Providing these grants is just another way WSPC helps to keep that history alive. While for some organizations a community arts grant from is a small part of their budget, for others it’s all the funds they have access to, and they wouldn’t be able to program without it. Since the program began in 2016, WPSC has provided over $80,000 in funds to help grantees bring the cultural offerings to life.
Originally called the Mini Grants Program, it was an idea born from the Conservancy’s first Executive Director, who began receiving numerous funding requests from local groups bringing free programming to the Park almost as soon as the Conservancy formed. By creating a formal grant process, available resources could be allocated fairly instead of defaulting to giving the groups who had been around the longest. The first cycle in 2016 awarded $5,000 to 7 groups, and both the amount of funds distributed and the number of applicants has only grown over the years.
This year the Selection Committee awarded nearly $16,000 across 13 organizations, a significant increase since the first cycle seven years ago! We’re thrilled to welcome back 9 of our returning grantees for another season: congratulations to Films on the Green, Dances for a Variable Population, NY Laughs, The Washington Square Music Festival, The Village Trip, Theater for the New City, the Washington Square Folk Festival, Bossa Nova by the Brazilian Opera, and eGALitarian Brass. In addition to these Park favorites, funds were distributed to 4 new grantees: congratulations to Columbia Summer Winds, #HalfTheStory, The India Center, and the Museum of Chinese in America, who are bringing a varied array of new programs for Parkies to enjoy this summer. Stay tuned for scheduling updates at www.washingtonsqpark.org/events.
Washington Square Park isn’t one thing, it’s a dizzying kaleidoscope of sound and movement and action. We’re proud to make a small contribution to these cultural organizations who add so much.