NYC Performers in Sacred Places

Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, & Queens

We have expanded our work into its next phase which will include four of the five boroughs and all types of performing artists!

The very core of our work brings together artists and arts organizations looking for space with houses of worship who have space to share and are willing to share it with artists.

Partners for Sacred Places is excited to expand our Arts in Sacred Places work in NYC. We can’t wait to bring on performers from theatre and music as well as meet new dance makers. We are also looking forward to extending invitations to sacred places in The Bronx and Queens – finally extending beyond the borders of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

This phase of our work will start July 2022 and go through June of 2024. As the timeline develop and the training dates become available, we will be posting them. We are asking anyone interested in participating in our program to fill out one of our participation forms. (Sacred Places or Performing Artist)

Partners’ experience and research has shown that many urban congregations are overwhelmed with the burden of caring for surplus space. At the same time, artists who are struggling to find adequate and affordable space in which to work, may not know that the former Sunday school wing of a local church could be available for office, performance, or studio space. Partners’ Arts in Sacred Places program (AiSP) was designed to capitalize on this challenge by facilitating mutually beneficial space-sharing relationships between arts organizations without a home and the city’s houses of worship with space to spare.

CreateNYC, New York City’s most recent cultural plan, lists affordability as one of its primary issue areas. The report notes, “the [arts] sector cannot continue to make the city great if the artists, scientific researchers, cultural workers, and nonprofit organizations that make up much of the cultural field cannot afford to do their work. The current supply of affordable places to live, work, exhibit, and perform falls far short of demand. This affordability crisis not only severely affects the well-being of the 250,000 New Yorkers that work in the cultural field, but it also threatens the city’s future as a global cultural center.” (CreateNYC, 12)

  • Sacred places are community spaces and artists expand that definition.
  • Artists avoid the costs of property ownership while sacred places can earn income to maintain their buildings.
  • Sacred places are generally able to rent their spaces below market rate.

Partners is seeking at least 25 sacred places located in The Bronx and Queens to participate in this pilot project. Selected sacred places should fit the following criteria:

  • Have a willingness to share your space with performing artists specifically.
  • Are open to artistic freedom
    • Artistic freedom means allowing the artists to develop and create their work without interference or influence from entities outside their creative process.
  • Have large open spaces – useful for both rehearsals and potentially performance.
  • Have the human capacity at your facility to handle the management of potential space sharers
  • Have clergy and lay leadership interested in the arts and space sharing

Partners is inviting hundreds of sacred places to apply for 25 slots. We will be making the selections based on geography (The Bronx & Queens get priority), openness, denomination variety, accessibility, public transit options, and interior spaces that are functional for the dance community. It is preferable for any Sacred places interested in participating in the program to have their buildings surveyed prior to any training sessions. Please contact Karen DiLossi ( or (215) 567-3234 x 16 to schedule a survey of your building.

The NYC Performers in Sacred Places program is focused on guiding both artists and sacred places towards sharing space with one another based on mission and vision alignment that creates a strong relationship foundation for long-term success. While we will advise, assist, and act as a resource to all participants, the program at this time, does not provide any financial support or negotiate any individual space sharing agreements. Our distinct hope is to empower both groups to create space sharing agreements that work for them.

In light of this project’s specific geographic parameters, we would like to acknowledge that the NYC Performers in Sacred Places program is taking place on the traditional land of Wappinger, Lenape and Canarsie people.

Partners is seeking performers of all kinds, dance makers, theatre artists, and musicians (individuals, co-ops, or organizations) to participate in this process. Selected artists should fit the following criteria:

  • Have a willingness to make a creative home within a sacred place
  • Are currently paying rent in another space or are ready to make that leap
  • Have human capacity to handle the space sharing relationship
  • Have artistic and management leadership interested in sharing space with sacred places
  • Wants to have a creative home in either The Bronx or Queens
    • We do have participants in Manhattan and Brooklyn, but please note the majority of our focus is on those other two mainland boroughs.

Partners is anticipating a large amount of interest from the NYC artistic community and would like to express that our slots are limited so as not to dilute the quality of our services. We are working with Dance/NYC and IndieSpace to make sure our process is in alignment with the transparent processes they have for their programs.

Proud to still be with our initial artistic partner, Dance/NYC, Partners remains committed to Dance/NYC’s values of justice, equity, and inclusion and will strive for those same values in our artist participant selections.

The NYC Performers in Sacred Places program is focused on guiding both artists and sacred places towards sharing space with one another based on mission and vision alignment that creates a strong relationship foundation for long-term success. While we will advise, assist, and act as a resource to all participants, the program at this time, does not provide any financial support or negotiate any individual space sharing agreements. Our distinct hope is to empower both groups to create a space sharing agreement that work for them.

Partners for Sacred Places began our NYC Dance in Sacred Places program in the Manhattan and Brooklyn Boroughs in 2019. We spoke with and inventoried 20 sacred places in those two boroughs to identify underutilized spaces that could be potential rehearsal, office, and/or performance space. Through a series of training sessions, we connected the sacred places with space to share with over 40 dance makers who are actively looking for space to rent in the hopes of crafting mutually beneficial space-sharing arrangements.

Little did we know what 2020 would have in store for all of us. By mid-March of 2020, things seemed to be progressing in a bad direction, NYC was shutting down and folks were told to stay in their homes. We were a one-day training session shy of completing our NYC work for Phase I but we decided to take a step back to re-evaluate our program in light of our new reality.

Seeing space sharing as potentially problematic in our socially distanced world- Partners took the time to reassess our work to align with the priorities of New Yorkers, we hosted two happy hour Zoom sessions. No agenda, no work expectation – just a check in with our friends in the Big Apple. We discovered that our work may have an even greater impact than before. With the possibility of losing some key dance maker spaces in NYC, our work opening up and drawing connections with sacred places may play a key role in maintaining and revitalizing the dance scene – keeping it alive by providing much needed affordable creation space.

Having pivoted to online sessions to complete our Phase I work, we strived to create meaningful online interactions where relationships can be initiated. As a result of our efforts, our work in NYC is being taken to Phase II. Starting in July 2020 through December 2021, the NYC Dance in Sacred Places program is looking for 30 additional sacred places in Manhattan and Brooklyn and up to 45 dance makers (city-wide) who are looking for creation space.

In Phase II, we added an additional 40 dancemakers and 20 sacred places to our list!

We are happy to announce our continued collaboration with Dance/NYC, New York Landmarks Conservancy, and Goldstein Hall Law Firm. The goal of this project is to create and foster sustainable, mutually beneficial space sharing relationships between dance organizations and sacred places. We also have developed a NYC Advisory Committee to help guide our process and progress, keeping us committed to serving the faith and dance maker communities therein.

Photo credit:

  • Grounds that Shout! (and others merely shaking) Fist and Heel Performance group in “…they stood shaking while others began to shout” at Church of the Advocate. Photo by Daniel Kontz

Advisory Committee

Randi Berry
Executive Director, IndieSpace
Savona Bailey-McClain
Executive Director/Chief Curator, West Harlem Art Fund
Ann-Isabel Friedman
Director, Sacred Sites Program, The New York Landmarks Conservancy
Ingrid Kapteyn
Co-Founder, HEWMAN, Welcome to Campfire
Kate Toth
Project Director, Bricks and Mortals
Jason Labate
Senior Associate, Goldstein Hall PLLC
Stephen Hill
Artistic Director, The ChoreoJoey Project
Daphne Lasky
Board Member of Greenpoint Shul
Amanda Iglesias
Architectural Designer, Robert A.M. Stern Architects
Colleen Heemeyer
Deputy Director, Sacred Sites & Preservation Services, New York Landmarks Conservancy
Candace Thompson-Zachery
Manager of Justice, Equity and Inclusion Initiatives, Dance NYC

NYC Initiatives for our Sacred Places & Performers

Together with our NYC Performers in Sacred Places Advisory Committee, we have learned about three New York City initiatives to facilitate small outdoor gatherings for worship and the arts: Open Culture, Green Spaces, and Lobby Extensions. It is a lot to shift through so we created a blog-post to help synthesize the information in a way that makes it easy to understand what opportunities are available.
(Data from Summer 2021.)

Contact for more information:

Karen DiLossi, Director of Strategic Partnerships
215-567-3234 x16

Performer Participation Form

PERFORMER participation form

Sacred Place Participation Form

Sacred Place participation form

Our Collaborators on this Project:

Dance/NYC, IndieSpace, and NY Landmarks Conservancy

Law Firm Partner:

Goldstein Hall, PLLC

Funding provided by:

The New York Community Trust