Performance Space New York

Coordinates: 40°43′42″N 73°59′04″W / 40.728285°N 73.984581°W / 40.728285; -73.984581
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Performance Space New York
Performance Space New York (formerly Performance Space 122 or P.S. 122) is housed in an old public elementary school in the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan
Address150 First Avenue
LocationNew York City
Coordinates40°43′42″N 73°59′04″W / 40.728285°N 73.984581°W / 40.728285; -73.984581
Opened1980 (as presentation venue)

Performance Space New York, formerly known as Performance Space 122 or P.S. 122,[1] is a non-profit arts organization founded in 1980 in the East Village of Manhattan in an abandoned public school building.[2]


The former elementary school was abandoned and in disrepair, until a group of visual artists began to use the old classrooms for studios. In 1979, choreographer Charles Moulton began holding rehearsals and workshops in the second-floor cafeteria and invited fellow performers Charles Dennis, John Bernd, and Peter Rose to collaborate in the administration and use of the space. Tim Miller, John Bernd's lover, later joined the four in launching P.S. 122.[3]

One of the space's earliest offerings created by the founders and choreographer Stephanie Skura was Open Movement, a weekly, non-performative, improvisational dance event.[4] Early participants in Open Movement included artists Ishmael Houston-Jones, Yvonne Meier, Jennifer Monson, Yoshiko Chuma, Jennifer Miller, Jeremy Nelson, and Christopher Knowles, among other dance and performance artists. P.S. 122 began presenting shows in 1980 with the first "Avant-Garde-Arama," a multidisciplinary showcase, and published its first complete calendar of performances, classes, and workshops. The first full-length public play or performance presented in P.S. 122 in October 1980 was a play by Robin Epstein[5] and Dorothy Cantwell's experimental women's theater company, More Fire! Productions.


Mark Russell was hired as the artistic director in 1983 to curate and focus the overall programming, expanding it from a rental house into a year-round presenting facility. P.S. 122 doubled its programming in 1986 when it converted the old gym on the first floor into a performance space to be used for extended runs of small theater groups and as a site for community meetings. Russell departed in 2004. Vallejo Gantner succeeded him in the position with the 2005–2006 season through 2017 and notably created Performance Space 122's annual winter series, the COIL Festival.[6][7]


In 2005, P.S. 122 was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, made possible through a donation by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.[8][9]

In 2011, funding from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs initiated an extensive $37 million renovation of the First Avenue building that houses P.S. 122 and four other organizations.[10][11] During the six-year process, P. S. 122 held programming at partner venues across New York City, including Danspace Project, The Chocolate Factory, Abrons Arts Center, The Invisible Dog Art Center, and La MaMa ETC, operating from administrative office spaces based in Brooklyn. P.S. 122's revamped spaces reopened in January 2018 with the premiere of “Visions of Beauty” by choreographer Heather Kravas, held as part of the 2018 COIL Festival.[12]


In 2017, former MoMA PS1 curator Jenny Schlenzka was named Gantner's successor as executive artistic director, becoming the first female director in the organization's history.[13] Coinciding with the reopening of its building, the organization announced its new name, Performance Space New York. The updated name is meant to signal "an ambition to be relevant and accessible to all of New York,” in Schlenzka's words, and to actively collaborate with the local community in its programs. Schlenzka's first full season of programming began in February–June 2018 with a series of performances, discussions, film screenings, and other presentations specifically themed around the East Village. The series included up-and-coming performers and collectives representative of the area today while paying homage to Performance Space New York's past.[12] Performance Space New York's new logo and identity were created by German visual artist Sarah Ortmeyer.


Since its renovation in 2011, Performance Space New York now has two interdisciplinary theater spaces that showcase dance performances, performance art, art exhibitions, music performances, and film screenings.[14]

Artist awards[edit]

Performance Space New York supports two ongoing artist awards, The Spalding Gray Award and The Ethyl Eichelberger Award.

The Spalding Gray Award, named after the groundbreaking monologist Spalding Gray (1941–2004), is sponsored by a consortium that includes Kathleen Russo, Gray's widow; Performance Space New York; the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; and On the Boards in Seattle. The award comes with a $20,000 commission to create new work and provides for a full production of that work presented by each organization. Past recipients include Tim Etchells, Richard Maxwell, Rabih Mroué, Young Jean Lee, National Theater of the United States of America, Radiohole, and Heather Woodbury.

The Ethyl Eichelberger Award, named for the flamboyant, trailblazing performer Ethyl Eichelberger (1945-1990), is awarded to an artist who "exemplifies Ethyl's larger-than-life style and generosity of spirit; who embodies Ethyl's multi-talented artistic virtuosity, bridging worlds and inspiring those around them." Recipients include Dane Terry, Mike Iveson, Taylor Mac, Julie Atlas Muz, Justin Vivian Bond, Jennifer Miller, Vaginal Davis, John Kelly, and Peggy Shaw.



  1. ^ "Village Alliance | Performance Space New York". The Village Alliance, Greenwich Village.
  2. ^ Liscia, Valentina Di (2020-01-22). "Performance Space in Manhattan Will Be Run Entirely by Artists for a Year". Hyperallergic. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  3. ^ Russell, Mark, Ed. (1997). Out of Character: Rants, Raves and Monologues from Today's Top Performance Artists. Bantam Books. pp. vii–xiv. ISBN 978-0553374858.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Frere-Jones, Sasha (2017-11-21). "How Performance Space 122 Is Preserving the East Village's Artistic Legacy". Retrieved 2018-01-24.
  5. ^ "Home".
  6. ^ 일부 계층에서만 화제 되는 공연은 의미 없죠 (in Korean). Hankook Ilbo. 2008-01-17. Archived from the original on 2011-05-16. Retrieved 2008-02-07.
  7. ^ Jiun Chung. ""The performance which holds interest only to artists is meaningless."". Retrieved 2008-05-04.
  8. ^ Roberts, Sam (2005-07-06). "City Groups Get Bloomberg Gift of $20 Million". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  9. ^ "Carnegie Corporation - News". Archived from the original on 2009-05-17. Retrieved 2008-12-13.
  10. ^ Rocco, Claudia La (2011-06-29). "An Auld Lang Syne Kicks Off an Artistic Diaspora". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  11. ^ "City Officials Join 122 Community Center to Break Ground on Historic Renovation" (PDF). November 20, 2013.
  12. ^ a b Burke, Siobhan (2018). "Unveiling Performance Space New York". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  13. ^ Barone, Joshua (2017). "MoMA PS1 Curator to Lead Performance Space 122". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-07.
  14. ^ Barone, Joshua (November 5, 2017). "Performance Space 122 to Return to Its East Village Home". The New York Times.

External links[edit]