Access to the vacant venues may only be available for a few months, but Chashama wastes no time bringing in artists who use the spaces as studios, to host performances, to offer free workshops, and as fine art galleries. There are currently forty Chashama locations across the five boroughs, and the organization hopes to expand to 100 venues in the near future.
For Chashama and the artists and communities it serves, the pitfalls of the COVID-19 pandemic have also created opportunity. As offices have shifted to working from home and abandoned or down-sized their in-person locations, new spaces are created for Chashama to leverage. And while too many small businesses have sadly shuttered since early 2020, the organization is working to breathe new life into their empty storefronts and usher in a new generation of businesses.
Storefront Startup is the organization’s new partnership with New York City’s Department of Small Business Services. The program is offering rent-free brick-and-mortar locations for small business owners, many of whom are artisans and makers. In the same way it has helped budding artists, Chashama is working to help budding entrepreneurs.