Small and Impactful New York Art Nonprofits

Curated by Melinda Wang

New York, NY

Art is more important than ever -- to inspire us, to give us different perspectives, to document our times, to instigate ideas and to express ourselves. When considering arts organizations to support, I look for three things:

(a) innovative programming,
(b) entrepreneurial leadership and staff and
(c) where my dollars will have the most impact.

The organizations in this portfolio do so much with so little, from socially engaged exhibitions to community outreach to international residencies to creating safe spaces for experimentation and discussion.

Nonprofits in this fund

Community-Word Project (CWP)

General Operating

New York City NY 10004 US

Community Word (CW) teaches students to believe in the concept, “I have a voice. My voice is powerful. My voice can change the world.” The organization sends trained teaching artists into classrooms in all five boroughs to help kids develop literacy, writing and communication skills through visual art and poetry. CW is unique in its emphases on multidisciplinary creative outlets and direct impact in childhood education. (Please check out the art and poetry murals on CW’s website for just a hint of what this wonderful organization does!)

Participant Inc

General Operating

New York City NY 10002 US

I’ve admired Participant’s exhibition program and founder Lia Gangitano’s dedication to risk-taking art since the gallery space opened in 2002. The consistently strong visual arts exhibitions are complemented by performances, readings, talks and other events that bring together the arts community. You never know what to expect at Participant, but you can be confident it’ll be thought-provoking and well-executed.

Recess Activities

General Operating

Brooklyn NY 11205 US

I first heard about Recess when my group of artist and curator friends (like many others in post-financial crisis NYC) discussed alternative models for art production, markets and organizations. The team at Recess truly believes in the power of art -- and puts that belief into action. One of the latest programs was an artist-led diversion program for court-involved youth and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Residency Unlimited

General Operating

Brooklyn NY 11231 US

Through its unique residency programs and public programming, Residency Unlimited (RU) connects well-vetted emerging artists with curators. These relationships with curators and other artists are incredibly important for artists’ careers -- as is a formal residency program that takes artists out of their usual routines. As a curator, I’m grateful to RU for introducing me to incredible artists from around the world who I likely would never have met otherwise. Executive Director Nathalie Angles and the rest of the RU team are instrumental in bringing international art talent to NYC.

Shandaken Projects

General Operating

New York City NY 10004 US

I started to hear about this organization with the not-so-easy-to-pronounce name from art world friends over the last few years and learned more about Shandaken Projects as momentum grew with partnerships with Storm King and Creative Time. By intentionally embracing its small scale, Shandaken is able to be nimble and provide direct support to artists. In 2018, Shandaken announced its residency program on Governors Island (with an incredible roster of artists) and continues to create unique opportunities for artists.

About Melinda Wang

Melinda Wang is an independent curator and Founder and Principal of MW Projects, a cultural production and art advisory firm dedicated to bringing contemporary art to historic sites, non-traditional venues and liminal spaces. Large-scale projects include contemporary art exhibitions aboard the S.S. Lilac, a 1933 steamship, and an 1897 French Gothic building in midtown Manhattan. She was previously the Executive Director of New York Artists Equity Association, a non-profit organization founded in 1947 to promote opportunities for artists, and founded Equity Gallery (Artists Equity’s art space on the Lower East Side) in 2015. Melinda has curated or produced over 30 contemporary art exhibitions since 2010, with a focus on emerging artists and socially engaged projects. Melinda graduated from Princeton University and received her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Melinda serves on the Board of Governors of the Princeton Association of New York City and is Chair of the Association’s Arts & Culture Committee. In addition, she is an advisory board member of Silvershed, an artist-run space, and is active in the New Art Advisors Alliance, Collective Show, the Junior Associates of the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum Apollo Circle.

15 years of grantmaking experience

Experience at MW Projects; New York Artists Equity Association

More about Melinda Wang