CITY LORE INC

New York, NY   |  citylore.org

Mission

Founded in 1986, City Lore’s mission is to foster New York City – and America’s – living cultural heritage through education and public programs. We are a cultural center dedicated to documenting, presenting, and advocating for New York City’s grassroots cultures to ensure their living legacy in stories and histories, places and traditions. We work in four cultural domains: urban folklore and history; preservation; arts education; and grassroots poetry traditions. In each of these realms, we see ourselves as furthering cultural equity and modelling a better world with projects as dynamic and diverse as New York City itself.

Ruling year info

1987

Executive Director

Dr. Steve Zeitlin

Main address

56 E 1st St

New York, NY 10003 USA

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EIN

11-2740189

NTEE code info

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (S01)

Management & Technical Assistance (R02)

IRS filing requirement

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

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

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

Place Matters

Since our inception, City Lore has documented and advocated for cherished local establishments, public spaces and community landmarks. Over the past twelve years, in collaboration with the Municipal Art Society, this project has grown exponentially in size and scope. Local, national, and international "place advocates" view us as a model. We’ve mounted historical sign projects, walking tours, exhibits, public forums, preservation campaigns, and technical assistance workshops. Current initiatives include our Census of Places that Matters (see www.placematters.net), with more than 650 nominations from the public, including parks, historic sites, public art, beer gardens, industrial sites, unique stores, and more. In 2006, we published Hidden New York: A Guide to Places that Matter with Rutgers University Press. This year we are launching a new iteration of the www.placematters.org web site. In addition, we have funding from the Dutch government for an outdoor exhibit in Lower Manhattan commemorating the Quadricentennial of Henry Hudson’s voyage with signage marking key sites in New Amsterdam.

Population(s) Served

Education. City Lore runs a rich and varied education program, combining in-depth arts-in-education programs with national outreach. In New York City, we have "adopted" PS 11 in Woodside, Queens, where we run artist residency programs in multiple grades. In addition, we bring folk and fine artists into more than 20 NYC schools, reaching over 5,000 students. Our programs highlight the immigrant traditions and histories of many cultures represented in the schools, and are designed to support National Standards in social studies, literacy, and the arts.  We were recently featured as a case study by Harvard University's Project Zero in their publication "The Qualities of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education." We also conduct professional development for social studies teachers in partnership with the New York City Board of Education. This staff development project in American History is funded through a series of grants from the U.S. Department of Education (ranging from one to two million dollars), and a recent award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Our national programs include our CARTS (Cultural  Arts Resources for Teachers and Students) Newsletter, the CARTS Culture Catalog (a mail order catalog for teachers to acquire multicultural materials for their classrooms), and a Teachers Center and library here in our offices at City Lore.

Population(s) Served

Urban Folklore. Established in l993, City Lore’s People's Hall of Fame honors grassroots contributions to New York's cultural life. Taking as its symbol a historic New York subway token, we present "tokens of our esteem" -- actually plate-sized, bronze versions of the subway token -- to individuals and organizations who are contributing creatively to the folk culture of New York City. In 2007, we gave awards to the Pearls of Wisdom Storytellers; Peter Benfaremo, the Lemon Ice King of Corona, who, sadly, died the year after the awards; and Renee Flowers, original member of Brooklyn’s Gowanus Wildcats Girls Drill Team at the age of 11 in 1972, its director from the age of 13, still its fearless volunteer leader at the age of 43.
Other urban folklore initiatives include a web story map of New York City called "City of Memory,” funded by the The Rockefeller Foundation and NEA, www.cityofmemory.org(http://www.cityofmemory.org) .

Population(s) Served

The People’s Poetry Project. City Lore was inspired to create the People’s Poetry Project because, while many groups are dedicated to traditional music and literary poetry, no other organization is systematically presenting the diverse oral poetry traditions of New York City, the U.S. and beyond. Poetry plays a key role in New York’s ethnic and cultural communities. Founded by City Lore and Poets House in 1999, the People’s Poetry Gathering transformed Lower Manhattan into a poetry village, attracting sizable audiences. Held in 2001, 2003, and 2006, the Gathering had a significant impact on poetry programming at events such as the national Dodge Poetry Festival. Since 2006, our funding has not been sufficient to mount the large festival, but The People’s Poetry Project continues to produce events such as our recent Mohawk Poetry Dinner which featured Theresa "Bear” Fox from the Akwesasne Reservation, and the West Indian Roots of Hip Hop in collaboration with THE POINT CDC.  
 In 2003, City Lore’s People’s Poetry Project launched a multi-pronged initiative to document and disseminate poetry from the world’s endangered and contested languages. As part of the initiative, we began collaborating with Kewulay Kamara, a traditional poet and master of ceremonies from Sierra Leone, who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 17. With our support and collaboration, Kamara sought to document and transcribe the Kuranko language epic poem, In Search of Finah Misa Kule: Voice of the King, journeying back to Africa to reconstitute the ancient epic handed down in his family after the only written copy, set down by his father in Arabic script, was destroyed in the recent Civil War in Sierra Leone. We recently received funding from the Ford Foundation to enable Kewulay to travel to Dankawali village with a film crew to document a full performance of the epic.

Population(s) Served

Special Projects. City Lore develops a wide range of special projects, some generated by the staff and others by talented filmmakers, folklorists, artists, and historians who are developing innovative projects in keeping with our mission. In 2007, we received funding from the Coby foundation to transform our national traveling exhibition, "Weavings of War" into a virtual exhibit (see .) It explores a new trend in folk art still unfolding around the world: over the past 50 years, textile artists, mostly women, from Central Asia, Southeast Asia, Latin America, and South Africa have broken with tradition and used pictorial imagery to communicate their personal and collective experiences with war. In addition, we produce documentary films, and serve as a conduit for filmmakers working on their own projects that relate to City Lore’s mission. Conduited films which have received national broadcast include Ric Burns’ Coney Island, his five part series, New York; and, most recently, the acclaimed City of Dreams about NYC women artists released theatrically and reviewed in The New York Times.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Awards

Benjamin Botkin Lifetime Achievement Award in Public Folklore awarded to City Lore's Executive Director, Steve Zeitlin 2007

American Folklore Society

GOLES award for commitment to housing and economic justice on the Lower East Side, awarded to Marci Reaven 2009

Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES)

Financials

CITY LORE INC
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Operations

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

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CITY LORE INC

Board of directors
as of 04/29/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Henry Chalfant

Public Art Films

Term: 2016 - 2018

Nathan Pearson

CEO RadioWave.com

Henry Chalfant

President, Public Art Films

Ray Allen

Brooklyn College

Caroline Harris

Goldman Harris LLP

Marilyn White

Kean University

Argentina Palacios

No Affiliation

Terry Delis

Former Public School Principal

Steve Zeitlin

City Lore

Raquel Cepeda

Writer, Village Voice

Esther Cohen

Writer

Ann Banks

Journalist

Caitlin Van Dusen

Journalist

Bob Holman

Proprietor, Bowery Poetry Club Prof., Dept of English

Ram Devineni

Vice President, Citibank

Holly Sidford

Helicon Collaborative