Neighborhoods Now: FABnyc

This work is part of Neighborhoods Now, an umbrella initiative; learn more about it here.


    Strengthening sites for cultural activity and planning new sites and platforms.

    Launched in Spring 2020, Neighborhoods Now is a collaboration between the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute to connect NYC neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with design firms in our collective network. In 2022, under the heading Neighborhoods Now: Forward, the initiative is evolving from rapid, tactical responses to long-term recovery strategies on a wider scale. Led by community organizations, seven interdisciplinary teams will enliven and program public space, provide technical support to small businesses, and strengthen cultural activities.

    The Lower East Side team is led by FABnyc. Early on the pandemic, the team developed reopening strategies tailored to needs of smaller performing arts and culture organizations. The team then expanded on FABnyc’s vision for the creative ecology of the Lower East Side by activating public spaces and establishing ongoing programming, and increasing cultural access and opportunities for low-income and traditionally marginalized communities.

    Key Outcomes

    Safety and Reopening Protocols: In 2020, the team worked with several of FABnyc’s member theaters and cultural spaces to create safety protocols, entry and exit flows, and seating charts that allow for socially distanced events. They also helped with planning seat arrangements for outdoor festivals and theater productions.

    20/20 Vision Plan: Through visioning sessions, site visits, and charrette sessions, the team developed a vision plan for FABnyc that was launched at the organization’s anniversary event in September 2021. The plan includes a series of organizational goals and activation strategies for open spaces throughout the Lower East Side.

    Advancing the Vision: In 2022, FABnyc offered more than 90 free events in public spaces and launched Open Arts LES, an outdoor arts market on Avenue B. They produced the FABmobile, a mobile kiosk that enables more arts engagement with local NYCHA developments.

    Looking Forward… FABnyc is permanently activating more than seven sites with cultural programming and securing municipal support to bring more arts outreach to the Lower East Side’s local parks.

    Who We’re Working With

    2022 Firms

    2020-21 Firms

    Year-End Reports

    2022 Report