The Odyssey

Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Is Back From the Brink of 9-11

Now more than ever, it is corporate and foundation money that keeps the arts going. A list of those who supported LMCC would take much of this page, but the biggest donors were American Express, J.P. Morgan Chase, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Mellon gave them a sizable, one-time-only emergency grant. Says Thompson, "That grant saved our lives."

Kocache, still searching for space to put artists-in-residence, found some in DUMBO last year. He says they debated about whether a Lower Manhattan group should accept space in Brooklyn—until they realized that they would have a view of Lower Manhattan. They moved even further off-site when the city of Paris offered three residencies. Then they placed some other artists in the World Financial Center, which turned over its gallery while the building was being repaired. Next they're going to the Woolworth Building, which is about to turn residential.

Liz Thompson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council: She kept going.
photo: Robin Holland
Liz Thompson, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council: She kept going.

Artists always seem to end up in liminal spaces—marginal, transitional. "Everybody talks about how culture and artists benefit downtown," says Thompson. "But how do artists benefit?" That's one reason she's joined virtually every group (from New York New Visions to the Regional Planning Association) trying to have impact at ground zero, while serving on two committees for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.

It's all about space. Now plaza-less, LMCC has to find creative ways to keep dance and music on the downtown map. And Thompson says they're in hot pursuit of affordable space for other arts groups. She asks that people check the organization's Web site ( for information.

"We are pursuing this, and we'll have more details to share in a month or two," says Thompson. "I just want to make sure that the community that pioneered this area is recognized."

Related Article:
"Lost Horizons: An Artist Dead, a Downtown Arts Organization in Ruins" by C. Carr

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