Arts, Culture, and Humanities

RECESS ACTIVITIES

  • New York, NY
  • www.recessactivities.org

Mission Statement

Recess's mission is to support the rigorous process of the contemporary artist by creating a space for productive activity that initiates a partnership with the public.

Our model combines studio and exhibition platforms, offering artists flexible space in which to generate new work.  With agency to
determine the visibility of their project and the parameters of its presentation, Recess artists realize ambitious goals in dialogue with an inquisitive audience.

Free and open to the public, Recess offers critical exposure for the artists we support while fostering an approachable environment that promotes valuable visual and intellectual interactions.

Main Programs

  1. Session
  2. Analog
  3. Critical Writing
  4. Series
  5. Interventions

service areas

International

Self-reported by organization

ruling year

2010

chief executive

Allison Freedman Weisberg

Self-reported by organization

Keywords

contemporary art, artists in residence, active audience, public art, work in progress

Self-reported by organization

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EIN

27-1109399

Also Known As

Recess

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Community, Neighborhood Development, Improvement (S20)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Impact statement

Recess impacts and defines the contemporary art community by facilitating immersive, in-depth, qualitative interactions among artists and audiences. In the words of Corin Hewitt, Recess's first Session artist and current board member, "Recess has created a new and very crucial opportunity for artists and the public to engage in a conversation that probes the nature of art production, in a context where production is emphasized over the commercial product. As a result, the public can access the complex and often impenetrable space of contemporary art making and share both time and space with artists while they are at work. I believe that Recess will lead the way in opening this crucial conversation and bring new forms of artistic production to both the public and to art."

Programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Self-reported by organization

Program 1

Session

Session, Recess's signature program, creates a space for emerging and contemporary artists to engage with the New York City public in a way that no other space provides. Though similar to a residency program, Session goes beyond the traditional structure to offer sustained interactive space for our resident artists to develop and expand their creative goals while directly engaging with their City-as-audience.

Session supports the creation of new work by giving artists approximately two months to work in our public storefront. During their time at Recess, artists have agency to determine the degree to which Recess is a studio, exhibition space, or hybridized new grounds.

Generally, artists' residencies are reclusive endeavors, with little to no interaction between the artists and their viewers. Alternatively, Recess grows from the concept that art making is most dynamic when it is presented as a dialogue-- an approach that allows the artist to have meaningful interactions with their active audience throughout the creative
process.

Category

Budget

Population Served

Adults

None

Program 2

Analog

Analog, our online residency program complements and parallels our signature program, Session. Analog provides a
sustained, virtual space that expands upon Recess’s mission to support contemporary artists working outside traditional models. This program also allows Recess to continue supporting the creative process of contemporary artists while reaching out to online, international audiences. 

The current project can be found at recessanalog.org.

Category

Budget

$6,000.00

Population Served

Adults

General Public/Unspecified

None

Program 3

Critical Writing

In fall of 2011, Recess launched a new critical writing component in conjunction with our signature program, Session. This program commissions emerging writers to pursue the underlying theory and contemporary criticism that informs individual Session projects, initiating a meaningful exchange between artists and writers while facilitating the mutual production of new work.  We are particularly interested in conversations that traverse disciplines, and we welcome related commentary from writers engaged in film, music, science, architecture, etc.
The structure and argument of the written piece is determined by the writer, and upon completion, the piece is made available in print at our space and through our website.  Each finished piece is approximately 2000 words, kept short to encourage dialog from onsite readers.  Eventually, Recess will organize these writings into a publication.

Category

Budget

$1,000.00

Population Served

General Public/Unspecified

Adults

None

Program 4

Series

In between Sessions, Recess hosts performances and event series at our main Soho space. Through these, Recess supports contemporary artists, encourages civic engagement among artists and the local community, and advances an inclusive cultural network. These shorter programs allow us to serve new artists and audiences while presenting new work that compliments the durational, process-based Sessions. These projects are experimental in nature; past participant Daniel Turner called these events "dream projects" that would never happen anywhere else.

Category

Budget

Population Served

Adults

None

Program 5

Interventions

Recess partners with organizations nationally and internationally to produce programs, classes, and workshops that embrace experimentation and support the rigorous process of the contemporary artist. Often, these Interventions and collaborations serve to infuse a more established model with emerging, risk-taking content.

Past Interventions and collaborations include:
Print Editions with Brand X Editions; Molly Surno: We of Me presented at BAM with BAM Visual Art; Liz Magic Laser: Bystander at The Kitchen; Center for Experimental Lectures: Christoph Cox and Sergei Tcherepnin; Still Moving at The James Hotel; Resource Room at Recess in partnership with n+1, Parkett, Primary Information, and Reanimation Library; Recess at The Museum of Modern Art’s Poprally; Pavilion presented at Kunsthaus Dresden; Dark Knights of the Universe in collaboration with The Public School New York; After School Special in collaboration with The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Regent Family Residence; and Juanli Carrión in collaboration with Abrons Art Center and Artium.

Category

Budget

Population Served

Adults

None

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Self-reported by organization

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    As we grow, we are committed to continuing to gain traction among communities less familiar with the visual arts through our open door policy and or dialogic programming. Passersby, tourists, and art-interested individuals stop in during public hours, excited and ready to take advantage of the unique experience Recess provides.

    Recess identifies four goals central to our organization's success. The first is to support contemporary and emerging artists. A growing number of contemporary artists prioritize the process of art making, rather than an isolated product. However, there are few spaces that expressly support the creation and reception of this type of work. By providing space, financial backing, and artist and visitor support, Recess fosters alternative manifestations of the creative process, allowing artists to develop skills complementary to their talents while making new work.

    The second goal is to encourage civic engagement among artists and the community. Recess breaks down the divide between artists and the public in New York City. Our dynamic lineup of programs enables artists to use their voice to speak authoritatively about visual art and pertinent social and political issues; by providing this platform, Recess encourages innovative ideas and projects that promote the surrounding neighborhoods as destinations for new, experimental work.

    Thirdly, we seek to preserve and advance an inclusive cultural network. By placing conscientious, creative voices in the public domain, Recess inspires an open social structure amongst artists and active audiences. During tumultuous economic times, the creative community must work even harder to add new meaning and describe complex perspectives to this active network. In this manner, Recess actively defines contemporary art.

    Recess strives to reach a pool of artists and audiences that reflect the diversity of New York City. Our outreach and marketing efforts maintain a commitment to reaching culturally, economically, and racially diverse artists and audiences. Staff is on hand for all public hours and special events to provide individualized engagement. As we grow, we remain committed to fostering an inclusive environment for artists to generate new work in dialog with a diverse public. Recess hopes to increase their ability to reach a larger, more diverse audience base through project promotion and expansion of artists services. A broader audience base not only aids in the advancement of the emerging artist's career, but also expands the breadth of the visual and intellectual experiences shared between artists and their viewing public. Maintaining a functional workspace rather than a sterile gallery makes the space approachable even for those not accustomed to visiting art institutions.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Recess routinely self evaluates and also collects formal evaluations from our artists and audiences in order to ensure we're achieving our mission and goals. Our board of directors actively assesses the organization's strategic approach and lends diverse skills to implementation.

    Our unique model affords us the ability to realize a successful marketing plan and engage our target population. No other organization has taken the artist residency beyond a secluded endeavor to a public-facing undertaking that reveals artistic practice to the community at large. As a result, we occupy an important niche and can effectively address an unmet need.

    In order to reach diverse populations, we send out monthly e-newsletters to a list of over 3500 press contacts, colleagues, and members of the public. Our events are announced in listings including Artforum, The New Yorker, Timeout NY, etc. When posting open calls and artist opportunities, we partner with organizational listservs, including those of Rhizome, NYFA, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Art Deadlines List, Residency Unlimited, and the College Art Association. We also reach out to academic institutions such as Pratt, Columbia, NYU, Parsons, Cooper Union, SVA, RISD, Yale, and MICA.

    Recess devotes funds for staff to attend conferences and professional development events in order to strengthen programming, share information and learn from like-minded organizations. Recess belongs to local and national peer networks including Common Field, Common Practice NY, and Rethinking Residencies; through these groups, we participate in conversations that are crucial for small, independent art spaces and contribute to developing advocacy and policy that accounts for this sector. Additionally, engaging in strategic partnerships with organizations (MoMA, the Drawing Center, the Whitney, etc.) has expanded our audience and assisted with outreach.

    Recess continues to be committed to reaching a pool of artists and audiences that reflect the diversity of New York City. We engage in one-on-one dialog with our visitors, ensuring their experiences onsite and online are accessible, dynamic and engaging. We track all applicants' motives for applying to the program to ensure we are effectively communicating its distinct mission.

    Our diverse income sources-- including fundraising efforts, earned revenue streams, and support from foundations, corporations and individuals--allow us to operate with flexibility and confidence.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Our large storefront windows serve as a built-in marketing tool to attract locals and tourists alike. Over the past four years, Recess has built a strong following; visitors return to track works in progress and join the dialog. Artists and staff are on hand during public hours and available at all events to speak with visitors and distribute press releases and program ephemera.

    All of Recess's staff participates in grant writing, fundraising, and connecting with potential individual and foundation sponsors. Since 2015, Recess employs a full-time Manager of Development and Communications to spearhead new PR initiatives and fundraising efforts. Recess utilizes a dynamic online platform as its primary means of marketing. We maximize the dialogic nature of our website and sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These user-generated platforms dovetail with our mission to reach an active audience, and allow us to spread NYC arts internationally. Our own website was thoroughly redesigned in summer 2015 to better showcase our range of current and past programs. The site is constantly updated with new information and documentation. This past year, our site hosted 37,000 visitors from 132 different countries.

    Since Recess is a member of Materials for the Arts, Session artists have access to art supplies, props, and construction materials, for free. Food and beverage outfits support secondary costs of project expenses.

    Board members hold leadership positions throughout New York City and provide the organization with a diverse set of skills and professional networks. Jacob Buchdahl is a seasoned attorney at Susman Godfrey LLP and provides Recess with specialized legal assistance and expertise relevant to our programs. Josh Koplewicz left a prominent position at Goldman Sachs to start his own private equity firm; as a Recess board member, he provides the organization with invaluable financial advice specific to emerging institutions. Jan Postma is the CFO at the Museum of Modern Art and offers unique insight into the financial and fundraising concerns of nonprofit arts organizations. He has assisted with fundraising, business plans, and year-end 990 filings. Corin Hewitt, our first Session artist, works in a manner in line with our mission, and keeps us focused on the ever-evolving concerns of the contemporary artist.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    To ensure all of our goals are being met, Recess continually evaluates Session. Artists complete mid-point evaluations through in depth conversations with Recess staff and submit a written evaluation form at the close of their project in which they give feedback about their experience with the space, the program, the public, and Recess's staff. Artists can also provide insight at any point throughout their residency due to close and ongoing interactions with Recess staff. Session's positive impact on artists is readily apparent. Artists are often able to continue and re-envision projects begun during Sessions; for instance upon completing his Session, Lior Shvil was offered space at Andrea Rosen Gallery in Chelsea in which he continued the project he'd begun at our Red Hook space.

    We maintain contact with artists after the conclusion of their Session to track their new work's development. Finally, Recess staff meets regularly to evaluate Session, making small programmatic adjustments to improve overall artist and visitor experience. In 2013, we will begin collecting written evaluations regarding the quality of Session projects and infrastructure from our Selection Panel and our Studio Advisory Committee.

  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Since 2011, we have doubled the number of artists we support, initiated a new critical writing program, launched a new series which places artists of color in conversation with one another, and brought our programming outside of the USA for the first time. We held over 20 free performance series, classes and events, including participation in The Dependent Art Far, Performa, NADA in Miami, and collaborations with the Museum of Modern Art's PopRally series, Kunsthaus Dresden, The Public School New York, Whitney Museum of American Art and the Regent Family Residence, and BAM Visual Arts.

    The collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art's 2012 PopRally series included twelve emerging Recess artists—many of whom have participated in Session—to take over the museum's permanent collection for a night of temporary interventions that interrogated works on view. This was the first time that the Museum has partnered with another organization to invite contemporary artists to create new work within the context of the collection. It presented a unique possibility for critical inquiry and exchange between art historical objects and emerging, working artists. Additionally, it was be the first museum exposure for many of those artists.

    Recess serves approximately 4,000 visitors free of charge annually, offering what the New York Observer calls “unpredictable and exciting results" and, according to Hyperallergic, “thriv[ing] on redefining its complicated role as an incubator of artistic ideas."

    Recess continues to better support those with special needs; for example we have worked with sign-language interpreters to communicate with non-hearing artists and audiences and have hosted ESL classes. Also, in 2012 we implemented a capital improvement to make our Soho space more accessible to wheelchair users.

    In April 2015, Recess introduced a new format for its annual benefit auction, structured around a game designed by Zach Gage, called Beg, Borrow, Or Steal. Invited guests were assigned an artwork and encouraged to "beg, borrow, or steal" in order to safeguard or swap their works. Each of the 200 guests went home with an original piece of art. The event raised over $70,000 for the organization.

service areas

International

Self-reported by organization

Blog

The organization's Blog

Social Media

@recessactivities

@recessart

@recessactivities

@recessactivitiesinc/

@recess

@recessactivities

Funding Needs

Your support at every level is crucial to our success! $25: Fund a year’s worth of image and video hosting online $150: Produce the post cards advertising our next event $500: Support two artists with an honorarium $1000: Keep us warm all winter long $10,000: Fund an entire two-month long Session (space, materials, support, etc.) $25,000: Provide the materials for a year’s worth of artists’ projects $_______: We’re grateful for any amount that fits your budget Email to tell us how you’d like us to use your donation: •    Our signature program, Session          •    Operations costs •    Public performances & events            •    Where it’s needed We appreciate your continued support!   Recess is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. On behalf of the artists, board and staff at Recess, thank you.

photos



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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

RECESS ACTIVITIES, INC.
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

RECESS ACTIVITIES

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2014, 2013 and 2012
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Knowledge Base Search
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE FOR FISCAL YEAR

Allison Freedman Weisberg

BIO

Allison Freedman Weisberg grew up in Palisades, New York and has been living in New
York City since 2005. She received a BA with honors from Wesleyan University, where
she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and she earned an MA with honors in Visual Culture
from New York University. Before founding Recess, she worked in the Education
Department at the Museum of Modern Art and then became Senior Coordinator of Youth
and Community Programs at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her work uniting
artists and audiences in New York's principal art museums lead her to start Recess in
2009, where she continues to challenge traditional contexts for art making and its
reception. She has given lectures on contemporary artists and alternative art spaces at
venues such as Exit Art, Brooklyn College, and the New Museum. As an artist, educator,
and cultural producer, Allison enjoys a unique personal connection to the contemporary
arts that informs every aspect of her practice as Executive Director of Recess.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Malia F Simonds

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Term: Dec 2015 -

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization

Yes

BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?

No

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?

Yes

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?

Yes

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?

No

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?