LABA 2019/20 Application
Application Deadline is Tuesday, June 11th at midnight.
LABA Application Form
LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Art and Culture is a non-religious house of study at the 14th Street Y. Its goal is to function as an international incubator for creativity. LABA aims to push the boundaries of what Jewish art can be and what Jewish texts can teach.
Every year LABA selects a group of ten fellows to join us for a yearlong study of classical Jewish texts centered around a theme. Through our study, we engage with the stories of the Bible and classical Rabbinic texts as if they were new. We also fold in secular literature, as well as music and art, to help us better see both the timeless and radical elements of these sacred texts.
A central focus of LABA is to present Judaism’s rich literary and intellectual tradition in an open and creatively fertile setting, so that these texts and ideas may serve as inspiration for the fellows’ art and ideas. The work inspired by the study appears in LABA events and online in the LABA Journal.
LABA’s home is the 14th Street Y in New York City’s East Village. The setting provides our fellows the opportunity to engage deeply with the Y community, our neighborhood and the New York theater and art world through installations, gallery shows, workshops, performances, presentations and panel discussions presented throughout the Y and in our convertible Black Box Theater.
ABOUT THIS YEAR’S THEME
The LABA theme for 2019-2020 is HUMOR.
Laughter, humor, sarcasm, and mockery are so closely associated with Jewish culture — especially Jewish-American culture — that many use the terms “Jewish” and “humorous” interchangeably. Where did this association come from, and what does it say about our self-perception? Have we always been such “funny” people? If so, why does the prophet Isaiah warn us: “Now stop your mocking, or your chains will become heavier.” (28:22) And the book of Psalms opens with this somber statement: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (1:1)
This year at LABA we will contemplate the various ways in which our culture dealt with humor throughout its long and complex history, and study an array of Jewish texts, both ancient and contemporary, that celebrate the gift of Jewish humor, but also expose the dark, perhaps even tragic side of it.
If these subjects move you, we invite you to apply and be our fellow for 2019-2020. Together, we’ll use classical Jewish texts to inspire art, dialogue, and study. Most importantly, we’ll have a great time talking, eating, drinking and learning in the lush, fertile, free-flowing, romantic, super-serious and endlessly playful environment of LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Culture.
ABOUT OUR FELLOWS
We are seeking artists and culture-makers from any creative field: fellows have included choreographers, performers, curators, visual artists, bakers, directors, composers, writers, film-makers, clowns, comedians and fashion designers. We do not limit our categories: we encourage everyone from puppeteers and chefs to architects and tight-rope walkers to apply.
No previous knowledge of Jewish texts is required for fellows, nor will previous knowledge of Jewish texts lessen one’s chances of becoming a fellow. What is required is a desire to study these texts in an intellectually rigorous, non-religious setting.
The LABA season runs between September 2019 to June 2020. During the season, fellows are required to:
• Join us for ten study and engagement sessions at the 14th Street Y and around New York City (usually once a month on Monday or Tuesday evenings).
• Participate in a day-long retreat (date to be determined).
• Make at least one contribution to our online journal.
• Present their work-in-process at one of our LABA events which take place throughout the year.
• Check in periodically with the Artistic Director about their work.
All applicants must apply to LABA with either a work-in-process or a concrete project idea connected to the theme of HUMOR. Our goal is to be informed and inspired by the study sessions, which, we have found, happens on a much deeper level when the fellows have a specific goal in mind.
LABA fellows receive a $1500 stipend and a small stipend (up to $250) for a closed work-in-progress presentation. In addition, artists receive creative and administrative support in various forms, such as fiscal sponsorship and fundraising strategies. Through the year of their fellowship, fellows have access to rehearsal space and workspace at the 14Y, including the theater.
Fellows also have the opportunity to work one-on-one and be mentored by LABA faculty.
Finally, LABA gives culture-makers a chance to create in an artistic community, where they will be able to engage in an ongoing conversation about the development of their work.
ABOUT SECOND STAGE
Part of LABA’s ongoing goal is to function as a hub for the development of new Jewish culture. Thus artists may have the opportunity to further the work developed through LABA after the completion of their fellowship year, pending budget and approval. (We call this the “second stage.”)
Past work from LABA fellows has continued on to the New Museum, The Tate Modern, BAM Next Wave, Off-Broadway theaters, and the 14th Street Y. Past works have been presented as gallery shows, full-scale dance productions, operas and more. While we cannot guarantee all fellows will move into a second stage, the artistic and production teams will work with you closely throughout the year to determine what the appropriate next steps are for the artist and LABA/14th Street Y.
Tuesday, June 11th at midnight. The Artistic Director and a panel of artists and faculty will then review all eligible applications. Finalists will be contacted by June 19 for in-person interviews at the 14th Street Y the week of June 24.