NEW INC Executive Director Julia Kaganskiy Predicts More NEW INC

by Rea McNamara on May 3, 2016 Newswire

Sougwen Chung demonstrates project D.O.U.G. (made in collaboration with Yotam Mann) at the NEW INC End of Year Showcase at Redbull Studios 2015. (Credit: NEW INC)

Sougwen Chung demonstrates project D.O.U.G. (made in collaboration with Yotam Mann) at the NEW INC End of Year Showcase at Redbull Studios 2015. (Credit: NEW INC)

We’ve been following NEW INC since it’s founding in 2014. An arm of the New Museum designed to offer professional development opportunities to creatives in all fields, NEW INC offers a much-needed support model. Now, two years in and newly accepted applications for its September 2016-2017 term, how’s the non-profit doing?

“One thing that has been unique about NEW INC and incredibly important to our mission is that it’s not a one-size-fits-all community or approach to the idea of entrepreneurship,” says Julia Kaganskiy, NEW INC’s director, in an email interview with AFC. “We believe that even an individual artist or designer in the program is an entrepreneur — a business of one.”

As the world’s first museum-led incubator, NEW INC is not only uniquely equipped to give emerging professionals access to a coworking space in the Bowery (think deskspace, conference rooms and event spaces) but institutional perks like a New Museum membership and face-time with anchor tenants like Rhizome and Columbia University’s GSAPP incubator. Over the last two years, NEW INC has supported artist-led projects. These range from Kevin McCoy’s Monegraph, the open source platform that uses blockchain technology for digital-based authentication for “smart” contracts, to Print All Over Me, the custom-design clothing and fabric printing platform and marketplace that allows artists to upload digital designs and profit from the sales of those prints.

Beyond offering space to artists and creative practitioners downtown, NEW INC also facilitates a community that addresses the practical challenges of maintaining a professional practice in the our increasingly networked 21st century. “The other thing that was important to us, as an institution that is looking at new forms of practice and creative production, was the ways in which emerging creative talent are blurring the lines between art and commerce,” says Kaganskiy. “Often intentionally and knowingly playing with the idea of an agency or a start-up but with a critical edge, or perhaps co-opting these strategies in order to make a bigger impact and reach audiences that may not typically gravitate to museums or arts institutions. The idea for us was very much about strengthening the local creative economy and, hopefully, giving artists, designers and creative entrepreneurs the tools, resources and, most importantly, the network to stay in NYC and build in NYC.”

Members Senay Berhe and Sabine Seymour participate in a NEW INC workshop. Credit: NEW INC

Members Senay Berhe and Sabine Seymour participate in a NEW INC workshop. Credit: NEW INC

NEW INC offers two levels of paying membership. A full membership ($600/month) guarantees 24/7 access to a dedicated desk space and storage locker, and participation in the mentorship program. The space has wireless internet, a kitchen and natch, easy access to the New Museum. Part-time membership ($350/month) garners access to a communal desk space 12 days per month.

The program’s 2016-2017 research themes range from open software, online communities, blockchain-based systems and “alternative economies”. When I asked Kaganskiy to clarify what exactly that entailed, she said “it’s been part of our objective since the beginning to ‘investigate new models for building a sustainable creative practice.’ I think we’ve done that, to a point, but we really want to amplify that as part of our conversation next year.”

In her opinion, while NEW INC has helped to provide creative professionals the tools and skills to work within the current system, they now want to explore how that system can be different, and what role the artist and creative practitioners in changing the status quo. “It seems like right now we’re going through a huge moment of change, and I’m personally very interested in conversations around post-digital economies and post-capitalism,” she says. “I’d like to bring some of these discussions more to the forefront of what we’re doing here next year.”

We were excited to hear that, and as it happens, we’ll all have a chance to learn a little bit more about the program’s participants come Tuesday, May 10, when NEW INC hosts their an information session and open house. Applicants can get an overview of the program, meet the team and tour the space in advance of the deadline for applications , May 13.

Meanwhile, two years out, Kaganskiy uttered words that couldn’t have us more excited about the years to come.

“As a program, we’ve reached a point of maturity where we have operationalized a lot of the day-to-day” She told us. “We can finally focus on big picture ideas.”

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