Photos: Sam Lahoz

Future Culture: Connecting People and Place on Staten Island’s North Shore opened on September 14 at ArtSpace @ Staten Island Arts. The exhibition is on view through December 9, 2017. Join us for a series of free events in conjunction with this exhibit.

The show surveys six interdisciplinary public art projects, including renderings, concepts and interviews with artists. These proposals were submitted as part of the recent Future Culture call for pilot projects to activate public space in Staten Island’s North Shore. Two of those six proposals were selected for piloting in the area: Sonic Gates, a group of interactive sound sculptures; and Court Yard Fridays, a series of weekend concerts, will launch in the summer of 2018.

We seek your input! Post your projects and events on a map and add a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #connectingcultureSI. Your contributions will identify additional opportunities for the public realm and foster connections between community initiatives. Participate in the interactive map.

Finalists, many of them local artists from a wide range of fields, were at the opening on September 14. There were visual and new media artists, sculptors, composers, touring performers, graphic designers, architects, educators, and community organizers.

We kicked off the party with a music performance by Voelker Goetze and Daniel Moreno. Voelker is the creator of Sonic Gates. Daniel is a self-described friend of the earth and a lover of sound. They played an improvisational piece from Sonic Gates using the prototypes in the exhibition.

Staten Island Arts executive director Elizabeth Bennett and deputy director Monica Valenzuela, and Design Trust executive director Susan Chin spoke about how this exhibition moves the Future Culture project forward. 

Elizabeth Bennett: Staten Island Arts is dedicated to cultivating a robust cultural community here on Staten Island. We do that through grant programs, a folklife program, public presentations, and exhibits like this one. We have increased engagement in public advocacy projects that marry the world of culture with the world of business and development. What you are experiencing tonight is the fruits of some of those labors.

I would like to thank the extraordinary Future Culture team. They are amazing people who have been involved in this project from the Design Trust Fellows, to the community based working group members, to different artists who applied to the Future Culture call for the pilot projects, which are going to be implemented with the support from the NYC Department of Small Business Services. Design Trust conceived The Energetic City Request for Proposals that enabled the Future Culture to happen. 

Susan Chin: We are proud to partner with Staten Island Arts on Future Culture and to see this wonderful exhibition of all the pilots and various works that are going on in the North Shore community. We are thrilled by your incredible passion and that you are such leaders in the community. Our Future Culture team has brought us new discoveries every day and local artists are making the Future Culture Initial Recommendations come to reality. We are here every step of the way with you. 

Monica Valenzuela: This exhibition is a stopping point on a long road. Future Culture came out of Design Trust's request for proposals in 2014. We had started thinking about this project, however, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Soon after the hurricane, we started calling every artist in our database to make sure they were doing ok. We helped artists with applying for grants to replace things that they had lost. 

At the same time the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) process was happening for a lot of new development projects in Staten Island and we started asking ourselves: How do we rebuild and what is the role that arts and culture play? We brought together community members to develop recommendations. It was basically a laundry list of things that the artists in Staten Island would like to see happen. The pilot projects you see in this exhibition were a response to those recommendations. We put those ideas out in the world and asked artists to help us test them.

We are also trying to map the past, present and future cultural assets of Staten Island with this exhibition. This is an extension to what we've been doing in our Future Culture community workshops. In one of those working groups, community member Carol Hooper shared about how Bay Street was rocking in the 80s, when she could easily hit fifteen music clubs walking from the ferry terminal to Stapleton.

Our next step is to convene more working groups to brainstorm how we can make these new pilot projects, Sonic Gates and Court Yard Fridays, successful. We are excited to see arts and culture connect places and people, and make sure that we have a say in the Bay street corridor rezoning plan. We also participated in the creation of Create NYC, the city's first ever cultural plan.


Future Culture: Connecting Staten Island's Waterfront is a project of Design Trust for Public Space in partnership with Staten Island Arts.

The Future Culture exhibition runs concurrently with North Shore, a photography exhibition by Future Culture Photo Urbanism Fellow Gareth Smit on view at Alice Austen House through December 23, 2017.