In an extended period of belt-tightening, it is often the arts sector that grapples with some of the harder aspects of fund-raising. With heavy competition from other non-profits clamoring for support from the city’s enlightened wealthy, institutions must be creative and resourceful to attract new and more generous donors. For the Municipal Art Society (MAS), this dedicated support has come in the form of Robert W. Wilson. A veteran MAS donor, a philanthropist, and a former Wall Street hedge fund manager, Wilson has committed $600,000 over the next three years to match new or increased gifts of $1,000 or more on a one-for-two dollar basis. Effective August 1st, the aim is to help MAS strengthen and sustain its base of unrestricted support, which puts control of distribution into the hands of MAS rather than a targeted program. “Unrestricted support is the lifeline for any non-profit organization, and for MAS it’s fundamental to our core advocacy, planning and public program activities,” said MAS President Vin Cipolla in a recent interview. Indeed, MAS has been a keen advocate of preserving and protecting municipal artwork and buildings for almost 120 years. Set up by a group of architects, painters, sculptors, and civic leaders to create murals and monuments for New York’s public spaces, MAS later took on a more expanded interest in public debates about the design of the city’s buildings, parks, and monuments and its role grew to bring public consciousness to private developers and city officials. Among its most significant work is the transformation of Fresh Kills Landfill on Staten Island into a lively, usable park, for which MAS sponsored a competition won by James Corner Field Operations in 2001. Earlier successes include ensuring the protection of Times Square as an entertainment district against becoming subsumed into Midtown in the 1980s and pioneering the preservation of some of New York’s most important landmarks including Grand Central Station and Radio City Music Hall in the seventies. MAS’s “Adopt-a-Program” has seen numerous murals, statues, and buildings saved from erasure. With Wilson’s support—he has already provided most of the underwriting for the restoration of a mural by Ilya Bolotowsky on Roosevelt Island—MAS’s challenge now is to fuel another highly competitive field: giving.
Posts tagged with "Fresh Kills Park":
Despite all the controversy surrounding bike lanes and cyclists elsewhere in the city, Fresh Kills South has adopted a rather pro bike stance (though who'd expect there to be much disagreement when the only other traffic to contend with is that of joggers, pedestrians, and bird watchers). New bike maintenance stations designed by James Corner Field Operations will eventually dot the landscape of the of the entire park, and their design nods equally to both the biker and the walker. The stations include vending machines selling bike repair products, like Allen wrenches and spare parts, on one side, and benches for weary bikers or pedestrians on the other. The benches made of torrefied (baked) wood are attached to a dividing wall made of galvanized steel two by fours spaced about six inches apart. These bike stations, along with new "comfort stations" (a.k.a. restrooms), will be off the grid, so solar panels atop the structures will provide the energy needed to power lights and equipment. Both structures feature lively lime green accents making them hard to miss in the landscape. The comfort stations sit on top of a concrete box that holds equipment for sorting sewage materials destined for composting. The structure also contains closets for maintenance equipment. The bathrooms themselves are simply prefab structures dropped into the envelope. While the new structures were designed with the new southern end of the park in mind, soon they will become the park standard.
It will be decades before the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Park will be totally completed in Staten Island, making it the second largest in the city after Pelham Bay Park and almost three times as large Central Park. Some time next year, limited sections of the park are expected to open to the public, but for those who can't wait, the city's Parks Department is guiding private tours through the Field Operations-designed landscape starting next month. Uh, make that May—even though the tours were just announced yesterday, they're filling up so fast that all the April spots are already taken. The tour season runs through November and will afford visitors breathtaking views of the city and what was once the world's largest landfill. To sign up, visit the park's website or—what else—call 311. Should you fail to make it out for a tour, you'll find a small one after the jump.