MADE HERE Project: Documentary Series 1 Favorite 

MADE HERE is a documentary series and website focusing on performing artists based in New York City. A collage of intimate interviews, performances and behind-the-scenes footage, MADE HERE mirrors the rich diversity of the artists and communities they serve. It reflects on Performance Artists battle to balance work and art in New York City.

The first season was launched in May 2010, and by the end of September, had released 15 short episodes featuring 40 artists and covering five major issues: Creative Real Estate, Day & Night Jobs, Family Balance, Activism and Technology. Already, the website has exceeded initial projections, with over 12,000 unique visitors from 94 countries. Season Two rolls out from March through July 2011 with three episodes each month on: Identity, Creative Practice, Money, Lifework, and Home. This website provides a platform for audiences to offer feedback on the episodes, artists to share and discover resources, and communities to engage on the issues. In addition, each topic is accompanied by a monthly live screening and panel event. MADE HERE is supported by a 2009 Rockefeller Cultural Innovation Fund award. Additional support has been provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the New Generations Program administered by Theatre Communications Group.


What does it take to make it as an artist in New York? Talent, gumption, luck, and, perhaps most of all, cheap rent. (A little rehearsal never hurt either.) A new documentary video and interactive web series, the Made Here Project, explores how the creative class functions in the city, from finding spaces to making ends meet. In this month’s episode, artists including the theater performer Taylor Mac, the burlesque star Julie Atlas Muz, the b-girl Rokafella and the choreographer Elizabeth Streb talk about their day jobs (cleaning toilets, temping, making donuts) and how they made the transition to full-time creative careers.

“Sometimes I’ll go to a restaurant and someone my age will come up and take my order, and I’ll go, oh man, that could’ve been me,” Ms. Streb, who now owns her own warehouse performance space in Williamsburg, says.

The series, sponsored in part by the HERE arts center in Soho, and directed by Chiara Clemente, daughter of the painter Francesco Clemente, evolved as a way “to offer the audience an intimate look at artists and how they survive,” Tanya Selvaratnam, a producer, wrote in an email. She added that she hoped that Made Here would drive interest in supporting the arts, especially at a time when public funding is drying up. (Made Here is itself looking for funding and partners for its second season.)

Each month’s episode – available online – will also be shown at public events in arts spaces in each borough, with some of the contributors present for a discussion about the issues. Last month’s gathering sparked a lively debate about angel landlords and creating and maintaining alternative spaces like Cave, a studio operated out of one couple’s Brooklyn apartment. Tonight, the day and night job episode will be presented at a particularly ambitious space, the Chocolate Factory in Long Island City, Queens. It’s free and open to the public, with free snacks and drinks as artist bait.

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