About the exhibition

The James Gallery partnered with MOMENT to provide performances to live audiences in a series of outdoor Open Culture events in 2021-22. These events were held in partnership with local artist-run community spaces, Ibeam Brooklyn and ShapeShifter Lab, and – with the financial support of the Local 802/AFM Musicians Performance Trust Fund and the NY Cultural Development Fund – served as vital relief for people cut off from paying gigs for over a year. These performances paid local musicians for performance and rehearsal and included seasoned veterans, up-and-coming artists, and music students. The events featured Broadway’s young School of Rock star, Gilberto Hamilton, Steve Bernstein, Hadestown star, Brian Drye, Matt Garrison, Curtis Fowlkes, and the Fat Afro Latin Jazz Cats, a student Latin jazz orchestra lead by Zack O'farrill. In keeping with MOMENT NYC’s mission of diversity, these performances covered free jazz, swing, Latin Jazz, hip hop, R’n’B, rock, and folk.

Many of the performances are held outdoors or in non-traditional venues like public gardens, parks, public school yards, and Open Culture Streets. These events reached audiences that typically are not served. The majority of these performances are offered for free or reduced cost to those in the local community experiencing hardship. Many also were held in tandem with free food distribution.

MOMENT NYC is a small, but impactful nonprofit founded in Manhattan’s Lower East Side that presents music programming in support of local communities and local music history. Currently a volunteer-run organization with no employees and no physical space, which has allowed MOMENT to maximize fees paid to artists and scale operational costs. Their target audiences are low and middle-income people of all ages and independent underrepresented artists and artist communities that are less likely to receive funding. Since 2016, in collaboration with Henry Street Settlement, we have brought our programming to underserved schools and the Urban Family Settlement shelter in the Lower East Side. These free programs serve students that are majority BIPOC and those with less access to arts programming.

COVID-19 venue shutdowns had a particularly hard impact on independent musicians, making MOMENT's work supporting these local artists that much more relevant and critical. While shutdowns significantly slowed their development plans they took this opportunity to extend the reach of MOMENT NYC’s mission through work with Music Workers Alliance, helping to organize independent music workers, gather data, and represent their needs.

During this time MOMENT NYC began providing virtual programming to underserved youth in the Lower East Side, and eventually resumed in-person programming to free after-school and summer programs, including NYC’s Summer Rising Program (COVID-19 catch-up summer school), allowing us to again provide teaching artist jobs.

MOMENT NYC’s audiences are mainly low and middle-income individuals, and artist communities in NYC. MOMENT seeks out community-based organizations such as Henry Street Settlement, Ibeam Brooklyn, ShapeShifter Lab, Green Oasis Community Garden, Artists Athletes Activists, Music Workers Alliance, the Brooklyn Women’s Chorus, Warper Party, and City Year. Some are artist-run communities and some are community and/ or education-based. MOMENT's programs are designed to be diverse and accessible to a wide range of ages. MOMENT provides programming to underserved kids in the Lower East Side, the Bronx, and Brooklyn and creating adult programming in community gardens, on Open Culture streets, in schoolyards, institutions like the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, the NY Library for the Performing Arts, and independent local venues. All of these programs support local independent musicians and connect with the local communities they serve.

Support of local artists in New York City is of immense importance not only because of the rapidly declining number of musicians who can afford to live here but for the communities that are left without affordable, local, relatable cultural offerings. An entire generation or more have come to accept playing music as an activity and trade reserved for a privileged class which directly correlates with live music experiences increasingly becoming elite endeavors.

Saturday, April 30th, 2022, 6pm EDT

MOMENT is hosting a time-traveling journey to an era when Mambo was king of the dance floor, presenting discussion, images, live music, casual free dance instruction, and history. The event will feature a live mambo band with veteran mambo players, current lions, and young up-and-comers. Click here for more details.