Public Art for "Little Syria"

$3,254 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 42 people in 26 months
On Wednesday, January 25, the Department of Cultural Affairs of New York City, through its "Percent for Art" program, held the final panel meeting to determine the winning proposal for public art commemorating the "Little Syria" neighborhood of Downtown Manhattan and its literary heritage of Lebanese and Syrian figures like Kahlil Gibran, Mikhail Naimy, Elia Abu Madi, Nasib Arida, 'Afifa Karam, and Ameen Rihani. The NYC Department of Parks & Recreation is building a new 20,000 sq. ft. park in the historic neighborhood, Elizabeth H. Berger Plaza, and, after determined appeals by our local historical society, they have agreed to incorporate public artwork for the messages and themes of the influential writers and poets associated with this part of New York City.

The winning artist, Sara Ouhaddou, created a design that combines the Arabic script and traditional geometry into a novel, universal form. The poetry and prose of our writers would be written throughout the flat surfaces of the park in stone and in a proposed central pavilion with fortified stained glass. We believe her design is brilliant, and it will allow visitors to the park to encounter the words of Kahlil Gibran and his colleagues in a beautiful setting.

Our local community nonprofit, the Washington Street Historical Society, helped sponsor the artist competition, and now we will also be responsible for raising funds for the monument above what the city can afford from its budget for the park. We are determined to ensure that the artist can realize her full vision, and we will need to develop a comprehensive fundraising plan to achieve this.  The cost of the artwork and a supportive endowment for maintenance could be quite substantial depending on our negotiations with the City. We urgently need seed funding to allow us to produce materials, including a crowdfunding video and proposal documents, to persuade donors to support this meaningful endeavour (please also contact us if you are an admirer of Kahlil Gibran and the other poets and would like to discuss a major gift).

We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Donations toward this project's development will be listed with the full donations toward the effort once the artwork is complete and installed in 2018 or 2019.

We ask for your help to achieve this monument, and we pray that the final artwork will be an inspiration.

--Todd Fine and Elizabeth Saylor
President and Treasurer
Washington Street Historical Society ( / +1 857-234-0920

"It was in my heart to help a little because I was helped much." -- Kahlil Gibran

P.S. Here are a few articles about the project:

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We would like to thank everyone who has donated! In just one day, we have already met over half of our original goal! Because of the effectiveness of this campaign so far, we have increased our goal to help support another important aspect: video documentation. We have been filming important stages of the artist selection process so far, and we hope that when the artwork is complete and unveiled we can show everyone our efforts and struggles through a video. One of our board members, Bob Madey, the grandson of esteemed poet Elia Abu Madi, is a filmmaker who has been organizing this filming, and donations will also make sure that he can secure a proper camera crew and audio for the selection meeting.
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Hello friends, I need your help. Over the past six years, I have been working to persuade New York City to install public artwork for writers like Ameen Rihani and Kahlil Gibran in Downtown Manhattan. Now this is finally happening in a new park that is being built, and the long process is entering a new phase with the artist competition on Wednesday, January 25. There are some incidental costs related to the final panel session that we need to raise (food and travel mostly), and we have put together this 'gofundme' campaign to secure them. Please consider donating or sharing this campaign on Facebook or Twitter. I promise that all donations here (which are tax-deductible) will be listed with the full tally toward the effort once the artwork is completed in 2018 or 2019.
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$3,254 of $3,000 goal

Raised by 42 people in 26 months
Created January 8, 2017
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John Nackley
26 months ago

Congratulations to your group! My grandfathers and grandmothers were among those millions of immigrants whose feet first touched ground the ground of America in little Syria. Those first steps started the journey of their lives providing me with the opportunity to acknowledge your work now. Thank you, little Syria and your hard working group. I look forward to viewing the art work there some day. J.N.

Lydia Gordon
26 months ago

Happy to make a donation and look forward to seeing the exhibit on 1/25/17.

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