Want land for your cultural institution? It's available. Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) can help! DCA describes themselves like this:
"The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City's vibrant cultural life. Among our primary missions is to ensure adequate public funding for non-profit cultural organizations, both large and small, throughout the five boroughs."
City owned vacant lots can be transfered to DCA jurisdiction if they are to be used for cultural engagement. A cultural organization would need to create a proposal for a selected site and work with DCA to get the land transfered.
Take for example the vacant lot that BAM transformed into an art installation and bike park:
The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) gained access to the city-owned vacant lot at 31 Lafayette Avenue for use as a bike park and art installation in 2013. BAM is a cultural institution; that status gives it access to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA).
BAM was for many years situated directly accross the street from a City-owned vacant lot, an eyesore that became all the more conspicuous as BAM underwent its DCA-supported facelift in the last few years. The City-owned lot was under the jurisdiction of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, a department that holds title to City-owned land and assigns it to agencies like Housing Preservation and Development, Parks and Recreation, Police, Fire and Cultural Affairs so that those departments can create places that fulfill their missions. When a lot is assigned to DCAS, that means that no mission-driven use has been identified for it yet. The BAM team verified with DCAS that the Department had no plans for the lot and started the two-year process of getting access.
BAM invited DCA to cooperate with them in a land access campaign by sendind a proposal to DCA; DCA in turn requested that DCAS transfer 31 Lafayette to DCA jurisdiction and DCAS made the transfer. Once the transfer was complete, they submitted the same proposal package, with an emphasis on the design of the space to Brooklyn Communtiy Board 2. Community Board 2 approved the design, the last step in getting permission to put up the piece. The BAM team plans to maintain art installations (giant canvas paintings) in the space, with bike racks designed by David Byrne in front, just directly across the street from their theater.
If you're part of a cultural institution DCA can help!