Sacred Sites Program

A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale

A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale
A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale

February 2012

Three Years, Three Referrals, Success! A Conservancy Matchmaking Tale

A lot of what the Conservancy staff does on a daily basis is a kind of matchmaking. With our knowledge of New York City preservation consultants and contractors, and the special needs of various landmark building types: rowhouses, coops, nonprofit arts, cultural, and social services facilities, and religious institutions, we help owners of historic buildings link up with the right architect, engineer, conservator, construction manager or contractor for their building, project, and budget. On beyond consultant referrals, periodically the Conservancy will field a call from a congregation seeking a worship venue, or an arts or recreational program seeking space in a religious property, and we do our best with those referral requests as well. This fall, after three years of matchmaking and courtship, the Conservancy is proud to announce a successful match between an award-winning contemporary dance company and a landmark Brooklyn Church.

The Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Program has long promoted shared space agreements as a way for large religious properties – many built in the 19th and early 20th centuries to house congregations of up to 10 times their current size— to more fully utilize their facilities and generate additional operating income. Finding the right religious property venue for a nonprofit, ensuring that the nonprofit tenant is a good fit for the religious institution, and negotiating mutually beneficial lease terms is a painstaking process.

In September 2009, the dynamic and growing young dance company Gallim Dance was seeking a home, with office and rehearsal space. Gallim Board member and at the time acting Executive Director Dr. Irena Tocino consulted a friend, architect Fred Bland (Managing Partner at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects), who suggested that the Conservancy’s recent survey of historic synagogues might have identified a potential venue, and that there might be some synchronicity between Gallim, which takes its name from the Hebrew word for waves, and New York City’s historic synagogues. Dr. Tocino met with the Conservancy’s Sacred Sites staff to request referrals. After considering several synagogues, but rejecting several for lack of column-free space, or distance from public transportation, Sacred Sites Director Ann Friedman thought of two Clinton Hill churches with large, column-free meeting rooms. Friedman introduced the clergy of each church to the dance company, and tried to help the two parties consider the mindset and priorities of the other.

Throughout much of 2010, Gallim negotiated with one large Clinton Hill Church, both regarding space rental, and to partner with the church to provide dance education and programming to the surrounding community. Unfortunately, after months of planning work and discussion, budget negotiations broke down. Fortunately, Gallim did not give up, and when the Conservancy provided yet another referral to a Clinton Hill Church in 2011 – to the landmark church of St. Luke and St. Matthew, the third time proved the charm! The handsome Romanesque Church, built in 1888-1891, had the perfect underutilized auditorium space, with a raised stage, wood floor, and balcony. Father Michael Sniffen, the dynamic young Priest-in-Charge, has a theater arts background, and was immediately receptive to the idea of an Artist in Residence program. The Vestry of the parish agreed to meet with Gallim to explore the arts tenancy idea further. The Conservancy made introductions in April 2011, Gallim visited the church in May, careful negotiations proceeded throughout the summer and fall, and the match concluded with an 18 month-5 year agreement, and happy announcement, this month.

Related Documents: Common Bond Articles (.pdf format for download)

Leasing Space: Making the Most of Your Religious Property” Common Bond (Edition # 22, Spring 2008)

Shared Use and Tax Exemption” Common Bond (Edition # 21, Summer 2006)

Case Study in Shared Use” Common Bond (Edition # 19)

Shared Space” Common Bond (Edition # 17)