Historic Arts Venue a Finalist in Partners in Preservation Contest

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St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery has almost a century of tradition in connecting arts and spirituality

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is one of 40 New York landmarks chosen to compete for a portion of $3 million in grant money marked for historic preservation projects through a Partners in Preservation online contest. Because grants will be awarded based on the support demonstrated for each facility, the projects in residence at St. Mark’s, Danspace, Incubator Arts and The Poetry Project, are urging supporters to raise their voices in support of this historic arts space. Supporters can vote once each day online by visiting http://partnersinpreservation.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/PartnersinPreservation.

St. Mark’s has a long history of connecting the arts and spirituality, and support for the arts is an integral part of St. Mark’s community-based mission. St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery provides a neighborhood and national forum for original and proactive performances and has played host to a number of genre-leading artists including playwright Sam Shepard, poet and rock star Patti Smith, poets Allen Ginsberg and Khalil Gibran, dancer Martha Graham and Richard Foreman of the Ontological-Hysteric Theater. Today, the church is a progressive Episcopal congregation and continues to serve as a center for modern dance, experimental theater and poetry, and as a gathering place for the Lower East Side.

The Poetry Project is a beloved venue for presenting contemporary poetry to diverse audiences and creating a home for poets and artists.

“Having St. Mark’s as an inspiring, open and community-oriented space has been essential to our identity and our ability to carry out our mission of promoting innovative writing," said Poetry Project artistic director Stacy Szymaszek. “Voting for St. Mark’s in this contest is an endorsement for the vital importance that the arts play in social justice and community empowerment.”

Arts supporters anywhere in the world can vote for St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery through May 21, by visiting PartnersinPreservation.com or Facebook.com/PartnersinPreservation. The top three vote winners automatically receive grant funds, plus an additional number of finalists will receive some funds.

Choreographer Steve Paxton called Danspace “One of the most beautiful venues in the world”. For over 35 years, Danspace Project has supported a vital community of contemporary dance artists in an environment unlike any other in the United States.

“St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery continues to be an important site for contemporary performance events and we urge supporters to help care for this historic site with their online vote,” said executive director Judy Hussie-Taylor.

Incubator Arts Project is an Obie award-winning, highly respected program that supports innovative performing arts works in New York City.

“St. Mark’s incredible history with creative, inspired artists makes it the perfect partner for Incubator Arts,” said Samara Naeymi, producing director at Incubator Arts. “We urge anyone who appreciates the invigorating effects of art to support St. Mark’s.”

St. Mark’s is the oldest site of continuous worship in New York. A long line of notable architects have contributed to the church’s design, including James Renwick, Jr., the famed architect of the “Castle” in the Smithsonian Institute and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If successful in the contest, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery plans to use the grant funds to restore the circa 1858 cast iron portico that serves as the church’s entry way. The cast iron in the portico is attributed to James Bogardus, noted early proponent and innovator of cast iron construction.

St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is located in New York City’s East Village, at the intersection of 10th Street and Second Avenue. The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship for more than three-and-a-half-centuries and is the second-oldest church building in Manhattan. The church’s buildings and burial grounds were designated a New York City Landmark in 1966, and the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

To encourage supporters to vote in the contest, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery launched a 25-day social media campaign that is highlighting its unique contributions to the community and involvement in the arts. St. Mark’s Facebook page can be found at Facebook.com/StMarksBowery.

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St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is located in New York City’s East Village, at the intersection of 10th Street and Second Avenue. The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship for more than three-and-a-half-centuries and is the second-oldest church building in Manhattan. St. Mark’s has a long history of supporting the arts and social justice, dating back to the 1920s. Today the church is a progressive Episcopal congregation and continues to serve as a center for modern dance, experimental theater and poetry and as a community gathering place for the Lower East Side.

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Erin White
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