Creative Time

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Creative Time is a New York-based nonprofit arts organization. It was founded in 1973 to support the creation of innovative, site-specific, socially engaged works in the public realm, especially in vacant spaces of historical and architectural interest. Creative Time focuses on presenting artworks that both create inspiring personal experiences and foster social progress, while pushing artists beyond their normal boundaries.


Creative Time came to life during a period of artists testing out new forms and media that forced their works out of galleries and into the public sphere. The deterioration of New York City prompted response from its citizens, joining together around the common goal of improving city life. The federal government established the National Endowment for the Arts to promote the role of artists in society and introduce new audiences to contemporary art. This climate heavily influenced Creative Time's values of fostering artistic experimentation, enriching public space and the everyday experience, and bringing artists to the forefront as key contributors to a democratic society.

Creative Time produces, presents, and sponsors programs in both the visual and performing arts, programs that encourage a dialogue between the artist and the community. Creative Time's projects expand the definition of public art by employing artists concerned with enhancing the viewer's perception of a particular environment, sharing the creative process with the public, and using densely populated locations lacking in cultural amenities.

Instead of having a readily identifiable home, Creative Time focuses on having a well-defined programming philosophy, which requires that it move around to take advantage of the city's richness of resources.

Early Creative Time programs took over abandoned storefronts and neglected public spaces, such as the Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage and the Great Hall of the Chamber of Commerce in Lower Manhattan. Both landmarks had been unused for years before Creative Time reinvigorated them, through programs like Art in the Anchorage (1983-2001) and Projects at the Chamber (1982).

Creative Time initially gained widespread recognition for organizing ‘’Art on the Beach’’, a project which brought together practitioners of many mediums and allowed for the creation of large scale public works in Battery Park City between 1978 and 1985. For three months each summer ‘’Art on the Beach’’ offered site-specific sculpture and performances that were open to the public and free of cost.

Throughout the duration of ‘’Art on the Beach”, Creative Time was led by co-founder Anita Contini, who served as director until Cee Scott Brown took over in 1987. Anne Pasternak took the reins as director from 1993 to September, 2015. Taking her place as the current director is Katie Hollander. To this day, Creative Time continues to grow and prosper, each year giving both emerging and established artists unmatched opportunities to broaden their repertoires and explore the practice of art in the public realm. With these artists’ creations, Creative Time also allows millions of people of all ages and backgrounds to come in contact with contemporary art, enlivening the city around them.

The vast array of notable projects in recent years include skywriting over Manhattan in ‘’Clouds’’ (a 2001 collaboration with Vik Muniz), Tribute in Light (2002), and Kara Walker's A Subtlety (2014). Creative Time has also collaborated with such artists as Vito Acconci, Diller + Scofidio, David Byrne, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Red Grooms, Jenny Holzer, Takashi Murakami, Shirin Neshat, Sonic Youth, Elizabeth Streb, Tania Bruguera, Temporary Services, Marc Horowitz and Superflex, among thousands more.

In addition to these artists, Creative Time often partners with other cultural institutions in New York City and elsewhere, like the Dia Art Foundation, the Queens Museum of Art, Lincoln Center, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


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