NYC Sanctuary Summit with DCLA and MOIA


To:Tom Finkelpearl
Department of Cultural Affairs, New York

CC: Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Re: Sanctuary Summit
Date: June 22, 2018

Artspace Sanctuary and the undersigned organizations are writing to invite the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), along with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA), to help convene a gathering of the cultural community, including libraries, in order to explore the options they have within the law (and in cognizance of 501(c)3 status) and the positive, critical role that they might play in the current crisis around migration and racism; to stand up and to provide the most basic level of safety and equality of access, and demonstrate solidarity with communities across the boroughs.

The ruthless assault on immigrant communities, and on migrants trying to seek asylum at the border, has reached unprecedented levels. You have heard the stories – thousands of children have been forcibly separated from their parents by armed border patrol as a matter of state policy; hundreds of children who have been taken away have been “lost;” immigration judges are being forced to criminalize migrants en masse; activists are under attack, and more than 40,000 humans are being held in jails every day by order of Congress, by the impunity of ICE, by the complicity of county officials, and by the inaction of institutions and the citizenry. ICE is pursuing and disappearing up to 16,000 adults and children a month, over 95% from Mexico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean, many of whom have been residing in the United States for decades, sometimes for 50 years or more. Hundreds of thousands of people are being rendered statusless by executive decisions like those that have scrapped DACA and TPS for many nationalities – including most recently 9,000 Nepalese who have nowhere to turn.

We are appalled by these actions happening in America now, and believe this is a moment where we have to hold each other and our institutions accountable. If we are not able to take a stand at a moment like this, then when will we? That is why we are asking the Department of Cultural Affairs to help convene a Sanctuary Summit in the fall; a gathering of cultural institutions and the cultural community at large to address these matters.

This is an opportunity for New York City’s cultural community to show moral leadership. We are asking the the DCLA and MOIA rise to the occasion, and act as a model for other cities, showing that art is vital the civic process by offering resources to help train and educate our cultural community. Those who are much more vulnerable, with much more at stake, have been willing to take a clear stand. It is time that we learn from the many courageous undocumented activists who say, “sin papeles, sin miedo”.

We invite the Department of Cultural Affairs and MOIA to join committed NYC artists, cultural producers and workers in helping convene a sanctuary summit for cultural organizations and libraries to discuss these matters, to learn from each other, build solidarity and envision actionable strategies as a network of committed cultural workers. We – Artspace Sanctuary and supporters along with the New Sanctuary Coalition – are ready and committed to collaborate with the DCLA and other city offices to make this a reality.

330 W 42nd St

New York, NY 10036

We propose the summit as a one day event, which would include panels, trainings, legal presentations, and strategic workshops on effective practices presented by affected artists, activists and immigrant rights organizations, lawyers, as well as members of cultural institutions, city council members, DCLA, and MOIA. Under the main questions raised by sanctuary, art and education, the summit could address some of the following:

  • What can cultural organizations do within the limits set by their 501c(3) status?
  • How can spaces be used for education and dialogue around these issues?
  • What kinds of training of staff and volunteers may be useful or necessary?How can artists and activists respond in this moment?
  • What ‘sanctuary city’ policies can be applied to cultural institutions?
  • How can immigrant organizers and cultural institutions best work together? How can they benefit fromeach others’ work?
  • What kinds of coalitions exist and/or need to be built and what may already be possible with the people inthe room?
  • How can we create a safe space and be prepared for raids by ICE?
  • What kinds of artistic and educational programming is appropriate? What is already being done that canbe better supported?
    Please reply to this proposal by writing to: Abou Farman [email protected] and/or Raquel de Anda

    [email protected]
    Thank you. We look forward to working together with you!

· Abrons Art Center
· Afrikan Poetry Theatre
· Amerinda
· ArtBridge
· Art Connects New York
· Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE)
· Art in Odd Places
· Artists Alliance Inc.
· Arts & Democracy
· Asian American Writers Workshop
· BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange
· Bidoun
· BronxArtSpace
· Bronx Documentary Center
· CEC ArtsLink
· Center for Artistic Activism
· Culture Push
· Dance/NYC
· Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM)
· Downtown Art
· DreamYard Project, Inc.
· Firelight Media
· Forward Union
· Fourth Arts Block
· Global Action Project
· Groundswell
· Hyphen Hub
· Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics
· Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning
· Local Project
· Meerkat Media
· Museum Hue
· Museum of Impact
· National Black Theatre
· New School Sanctuary Working Group (SWG)
· New Sanctuary Coalition
· NOCD-NY I Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York · No Longer Empty
· Not An Alternative
· Painting Space 122, Inc.

· play:groundNYC
· Pregones/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater
· Radical Evolution
· Recess
· Residency Unlimited
· Shipibo Conibo Center
· Smack Mellon
· Southeast Queens Artists Alliance
· Spaceworks
· Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art & Storytelling · Swale
· The Field
· The Laundromat Project
· The Living Gallery
· The Natural History Museum
· The Point
· The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation
· Theater of the Oppressed
· Third Streaming
· Vera List Center for Art and Politics
· Visual AIDS
· W.A.G.E.
· Yes Lab