Get Off That Couch

As part of Culturebot’s ongoing effort to share the love and knowledge (and add new writers to our ever-expanding stable) we had Amanda Miller, writer, performer and P.S. 122 intern extraordinaire, write this handy guide to New York City Performance Opportunities for Emerging Artists.

The life of an emerging artist isn’t exactly glamorous; busting out the Tupperware, sleeping in gutters, stripping to make a buck. Does anyone care that you’ve carved that ancient deity in your basement, that you can sing in octaves only audible to your cousin’s Great Dane? Can they even conceptualize your talent for choreographing dance pieces while plucking an electric cello one string at a time? There’s only one way for people to know about you and that is to show yourself.

We here at Culturebot want to see you succeed. We want you out of your basement, blinded by light, near deaf from the loud clapping of hands. Our insatiable desire to serve our vast community of emerging artists has driven us to compile the following list of arts venues and submission policies in New York City. Get off that couch. Toss that beer. You’ve got work to do.

Dying for a chance to hold a mic? The city is chock full of venues with open mic opportunities. In most cases, it’s as simple as showing your face and slapping your name on a list. The big daddies of the open mic world are The Bowery Poetry Cluband Nuyorican Poets Café. The Bowery Poetry Club is a great place to get your ass up on stage, jiggly legs and all. With events like the Manhattan Monologue Slam the first Monday of every month at 8pm and the “Show and Tell” open mic hosted by the O’ Debra Twins every Monday night at 10:00pm, as well as a Poetry Slam/ Open Mic produced by NYC-URBANA “every freakin” Thursday night at 7:15pm, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Nuyorican Poets Café hosts The Open Room every Friday night after the weekly slam (which begins around 10pm) in which you may bring a poem to read (be sure to get there early to sign up). Also, with the exception of the first Wednesday of the month, Nuyorican hosts an open slam every Wednesday at 9pm, and if you win on Wednesday, you slam on Friday! In addition to the Bowery Poetry Club and Nuyorican, Collective: Unconscious hosts Faceboyz Open Mic on Sundays and Reverend Jen’s Anti-Slam on Wednesdays. While the Faceboyz and Reverend Jen open mics were once places for performance artists to test out material, they are now mostly populated by stand-up comedians. If you’re into that, go for it, by all means.

As far as submitting actual pieces ready to burst from the womb into the doctor’s arms, there are some great venues scattered throughout the city that want to be those arms. They all support entry level artists and showcase new work. Submit your performance art, dance, literature, music, multimedia, film, comedy, and any other artistic activity you can think of. The Brick Theater, a brick-walled garage in Williamsburg turned performance space, hosts and produces a monthly variety night called Brick-a-Brac. The culturally diverse and inventive Brooklyn Arts Exchange of Park Slope, Brooklyn, is a multi-arts non-profit organization recognized citywide for its way of nurturing new artists. The Tank’s ground floor storefront location right smack in the heart of Manhattan (at the edge of Times Square) makes it a super spot for risky unconventional performance. It is both accessible and affordable to artists and performers of all kinds: a space to both workshop and perform. Collective: Unconscious, having moved from Ludlow Street to Tribeca’s former Harmony Burlesque Theater on Church Street, is a long-time haven for freaky lower east side types to take the stage. It’s proved to be a great launching pad for emerging artists. Dixon Place, which began in founding director Ellie Covan’s living room, continues to provide a comfortable laboratory space for artists to create and develop new works with audience support. In addition to accepting general proposals, Dixon Place hosts an open performance night in their space at 258 Bowery on the first Wednesday of every month for artists to present ten minutes worth of their newest work. Keep your eyes peeled for the opening of their new space on Chrystie Street some time in 2005.

By the time you have conquered the open mic and entry level new works scene, you’ll probably be feeling pretty good about yourself. And you should. Good for you. Now it’s time to tackle the big leagues. Don’t be afraid, these places sponsor programs and series that are totally dedicated to showcasing the work of emerging artists. Think Movement Research. Think Performance Space 122. Think Danspace.

Every Monday night, Movement Research, an artist-centered dance service organization, hosts their Judson series at the Judson Memorial Church dedicated to “experimentation and emerging ideas and works-in-progress.” Movement Research sponsors a truckload of additional programs series, including Artist in Residence, Open Performance (monthly non-curated events), Studies Project Series (an artist-curated series of panel discussions, performances, and more) as well as others.

Performance Space 122 presents several curated programs for emerging artists. Apply to participate in these programs; it’s your best bet for testing out your performance chops in the space. Avant-Garde Arama, curated by Salley May, is an opportunity for you emerging and established artists in all disciplines to show off your newest stuff in eight minutes or less. In addition, DD Dorvillier curates Hothouse, a dance improvisation series. This series brings 3-4 performers, or groups to share their latest experiments and culminates in a jam between all of them. And finally, Travis Chamberlain is the curator of Schoolhouse Roxx, a music/ performance series that takes place once a month.

The main emerging artist program at Danspace, a premier venue for experimental choreographers, is Dance: Access, a low-cost self-production series at St. Marks Church that primarily serves independent choreographers and dance companies. They make approximately ten weeks available for this series each year.

The Soho Think Tank produces new work at the Ohio Theatre in Soho, yet another “pillar of the downtown theater scene.” Specifically, the Think Tank is responsible for heading up the Sixth Floor Series. This is a new program that provides an opportunity for playwrights and directors to explore an original script in a short workshop process. At the end of each month, STT will provide ten weekend hours of rehearsal space culminating in a presentation of the work on Monday evening. Rehearsals and the final presentation take place in their sixth floor rehearsal space.

The Kitchen, a home for the established avant-garde, accepts general proposals for dance, performance, and literature. These proposals are reviewed periodically throughout the year by curators. A former mayonnaise factory, Galapagos is a multimedia performing arts club located in the heart of Hipsterville (aka Williamsburg). Galapagos accepts general proposals that include an example of your work and a detailed description of what you would like to do. Your Galapagos submissions will be going to Travis Chamberlain, the same Travis Chammberlain who curates Schoolhouse Roxx. Into puppets? St. Anns Warehouse in Dumbo, Brooklyn, presents a Mini-Festival of New Puppet Theater from The Lab. Participating artists meet weekly for nine months to develop projects.

And there’s more. Dance Theatre Workshop, one of the most prestigious venues for the work of emerging dancers/ choreographers, does not have a formal application process, but accepts proposals for work submitted through their program committee. The legendary performance space, La Mama, presents emerging artists in their Club space curated by Nick Paraiso. In addition, La Galleria hosts a series called Poetry Electric, primarily a venue for performances that fuse music, movement, sound, and dance with spoken word. HERE Theater, hailed by the New York Times as “one of the most unusual art spaces in New York City—and possibly the model for the cutting edge arts space of tomorrow” is all about arts management innovation and non-profit enterprise; another great place to submit projects of all disciplines.

A majority of the spots mentioned above provide rental space for rehearsals, performances, events and exhibits. Contact the spaces for more information. In particular, check out Collective: Unconscious, Movement Research, and Soho Think Tank. Chashama, yet another non-profit arts organization, is a really excellent resource for space rental. At Chashama, the main person to talk to regarding space rental and event proposals is Cathy Nanda.

It’s possible that you are reading this all alone right now late at night. You’re reeking of beer and cigarettes, thinking about that jerk who blew you off, and suddenly you find yourself crying because you’ve got all this art to share and now you know where to go. It’s a huge revelation. It’s okay to cry. And no need to feel lonely; your Culturebot friends are here for you. We’re in the final stages of constructing a bulletin board on the site as a forum for you to post your experiences submitting and interacting with the venues outlined above. We also hope it will serve as a space to find artistic collaborators and updated submission policies for venues and companies. So get on the ball and have some experiences worth posting.

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