Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rally around Dance New Amsterdam

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Current Situation Still Challenging
Immediate Needs Totaling Nearly $150,000

NEW YORK, September 12, 2012 – On the heels of winning a 3-year battle to renegotiate new lease terms which substantially reduce its monthly rent obligations, Dance New Amsterdam (DNA), NYC’s foremost progressive dance education and performance center, releases the outline of its 5-year Recovery Plan. The announcement coincides with the opening of its 2012-2013 DNA PRESENTS Season and the introduction of strengthened educational offerings. Initiated by Executive and Artistic Director Catherine A. Peila, the plan is already actively being implemented and outlines key initiatives the organization is taking to achieve financial stability within three years and create income surplus within five years. Shaped by community concerns for public access and stability for artists’ careers, the plan incorporates cultural entrepreneurism and the economics of culture connected to the revitalization of Lower Manhattan/Tribeca. By serving more than 35,000 individuals yearly and providing over 650 arts-related jobs, DNA bolsters local businesses and greatly adds to the dynamic downtown cultural scene.

Since 2011, Michael M. Kaiser of the Kennedy Center’s DeVos Institute/Bloomberg Philanthropies has been working with the DNA team to offer greater insight into a successful turn around. Development of the plan included ongoing input from NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, a broad spectrum of key business representatives and cultural advocate Paul Nagle. State Senator Daniel Squadron, aligned with state and local elected officials and strategic cross-sector advisors, was also included in the conversation.

"DNA has been an integral part of Lower Manhattan's recovery, and critical to our neighborhood's emergence as one of New York's burgeoning cultural centers. In June, we reached an agreement to ensure that DNA remains in its home in ourLower Manhattan community. And now, DNA deserves another round of applause for continuing to work to forge a strong, viable, and dynamic path forward withtoday's strategic plan," said Senator Daniel Squadron. "I'm proud to stand with DNA, and the many community-based cultural organizations that make New York so great. Thank you to DNA for your invaluable work, and to all of our partners who helped make this strategic plan a reality."

The plan identifies four major strategic objectives:

1. Lower monthly lease costs and negotiate a settlement on arrears (achieved)
Peila announced on June 1, 2012 that new lease terms lowered DNA’s rent by an average of $30,000 per month through 2020. Additionally, the renegotiation resulted in the forgiveness of rent arrears debt.

2. Practice effective business operations

Under Peila’s direction, DNA has responsibly reduced general operating and programming expenses from $3.6 million to $2.3 million annually. The organization has implemented programmatic and curatorial changes and strengthened educational offerings. These restructured production and education programs expand artist services and include fitness, teen and children’s programming. DNA has also implemented energy efficiency measures and initiated restructuring plans to bring on new upper management hires with diverse cross-sector skill sets. The plan also puts keen emphasis on increasing thenumber of board embers by two to three times.

3. Build capacity through key partnerships to increase earned revenue and contributed income

Since 2008 DNA has built various strategic partnerships to generate additional streams of revenue and provide artists with increased access to services. Beyond these partnerships (Lower Manhattan Arts League, Tribeca Performing Arts Center/BMCC, the New Museum, and the National Museum the American Indian), DNA is working with elected officials, Community Board 1, community members, peer organizations, local businesses and artists from all five boroughs to establish additional opportunities for growth and community engagement. These local, national and international partnerships will provide an actively nurturing platform for dance, from DNA’s signature Simonson Technique© to ballet, contemporary and experimental dance. DNA artists and students are seen in performance spaces such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Joyce Theater, La MaMa, MoMA and Whitney Museum of American Art, among others. Increased revenues will be used to further incubate existing and future generations of live performance artists.

4. Restructure the existing debt burden to create manageable payment schedules

DNA’s success in lowering the monthly facility lease payments means it is now in a position to move forward on restructuring its debt through a mixed model of refinancing, forgiveness of contributed investments and increased revenues. Under Peila’s leadership the organization has already cut deficits by $1.2 million and increased individual and philanthropic giving by 45% and earned income by 25%.


The plan’s four objectives are focused on stabilizing DNA’s finances and operations. DNA projects $2.1 million for 2013 programming and facilities operations. The loss of a large rental client has recently created an unexpected income gap for the organization. An immediate call to the community to meet DNA’s first target goal of $150,000 by September 15, with the larger goal set at $450,000by the end of the current fiscal year (June 2013) is necessary to keep programs running and meet strategic milestones. A multi-year target of an additional one million for the next three years and a benchmark constant income goal of $3.5 million during years four and five are also part of the plan to create a surplus.

“I’m incredibly proud of the progress DNA has made over the past four years; especially when the future looked dismal. Already, DNA has achieved more than expected without sacrificing our mission,” said Executive and Artistic Director Peila.  “Our success thus far is due to the stability of our creative and educational programming and the energy and commitment of DNA’s staff, students, artists, funders, audiences and partnering organizations. However, even after all this hard work the recent unexpected income gap could result in Lower Manhattan losing one of its few ‘public access’ cultural centers and incubator art spaces. We moved to Lower Manhattan to be a part of its revitalization. We call upon the philanthropic community and government representatives to join the community and ensure DNA meets our immediate goal - and to further support the long-term solutions in this strategic plan, propelling DNA to a place of sound fiscal health thus creating a stable environment for artist works and the birth of new ideas. ”

DNA’s Strategic Plan FY2013-2018, represents the organization’s commitment to offering the highest caliber of dance programming, continuing DNA’s 28-year tradition of supporting the life, career and longevity of dance artists. Upon accepting the leadership position in 2008, Peila began turnaround initiatives advised by Arts ActionResearch and supported by funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. In 2010, as part of a Bloomberg Philanthropies grant, DNA attended the DeVos Institute of Arts Management Capacity Building Arts Advancement Initiate conferences. In 2011 Ms. Peila initiated further development of the 5-year plan working closely with Kaiser, local elected officials, DNA partners, while reaching out to funders and the community. The organization is not only developing a strong strategy to become financially stable but anchoring a downtown cultural campus that encouragesentrepreneurial spirit, provides a space for arts incubation and fosters collaboration.


About Dance New Amsterdam

Founded in 1984, DNA provides a community hub for the highest quality dance training, choreographic exploration and innovative performance, developing new audiences and bridging communities. It provides valuable opportunities for the aspiring, emerging and established artist, including daily classes, certification courses, commissions and artistic residencies, along with studio and administrative office subsidies. DNA encourages professionalism, entrepreneurial cross-disciplinary initiatives, community engagement and diverse artistic expression. It was the first nonprofit arts organization to move to Lower Manhattan after 9/11, serving as a renewing force in NYC's cultural landscape. To learn more about DNA and supporting its programs through charitable donations, visit

DNA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and its 2012-2013 programming is made possible through the generosity of its supporters. As of July 2012, public funding provided by: New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Private funding provided by: Bloomberg Philanthropies, with support from the Kennedy Center/DeVos Institute; The MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation; Mertz Gilmore Foundation; Jerome Robbins Foundation; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; and FJC, a Foundation of Philanthropic Funds. In-kind support from: Arts & Business Council, Fox Rothschild LLP, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, and Materials for the Arts. Additional support provided by our Advisors, Programming Partners, Neighborhood Partners, International Partners, and DNA’s community of individual donors. Dance New Amsterdam is part of The Lower Manhattan Arts League and its downtown festivals, made possible by generous support from The New York Community Trust – LuEsther T. Mertz Advised Fund. For a full list of DNA’s partnerships, visit

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