Apply to be a 2018-2019 LABA Fellow

LABA: A Laboratory for Jewish Art and Culture is a non-religious, Jewish house of study at the 14th Street Y. Its goal is to function as an international incubator for Jewish creativity. Every year LABA selects a group of ten fellows to join us for a yearlong study of classical Jewish texts centered around a theme. LABA aims to push the boundaries of what Jewish art can be and what Jewish texts can teach.

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 LABAlive 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.

The LABA theme for 2018-2019 is LIFE + DEATH.

“Repent one day before your death,” says Rabbi Eliezer in the Mishnah. Because we can’t, of course, know which day is going to be our last. And so our lives should be a continual process of repentance.

But just what does death mean? Is it an end or a beginning? Is it terrifying or cathartic? Should we dread it or make our peace with its imminence?

To address these questions, this year’s theme, LIFE + DEATH, will dive into everything from the Bible’s most notable departures, to the Talmud’s wisdom of letting go, to Kabbalah’s ideas about the transmigration of souls. Reading these classical Jewish texts, we will wrestle with humanity’s two central modes of existence: to be, and not to be.

If these subjects move you, we invite you to apply and be our fellow for 2018-2019. 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.

We are seeking artists and culture-makers from any creative field: fellows have included choreographers, performers, curators, visual artists, jewelry designers, directors, composers, writers, film-makers and bakers. 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.

Fellows are required to:
• Join us for twelve study sessions at the 14th Street Y. We usually meet once or twice a month on a weekday evening (exact date to be determined).
• Participate in a day-long retreat between September 2018 to June 2019 (exact date to be determined).
• Make at least two contribution to our online journal.
• Present their work-in-process at one of our LABAlive events which will take place throughout the year.
• Check in about their work with the Artistic Director once a month.

All applicants must apply to LABA with either a work-in-process or a concrete project idea connected to the theme of LIFE + DEATH. 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 as well project support of up to $3500. 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 Y, including the theater.

Fellows also have the opportunity to work one-on-one with our teachers, Liel Leibowitz and Ruby Namdar, to dig deeper into texts, and to participate in an APAP showcase, if relevant to their project. 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.

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. Second-stage work is pending budget and approval. Past second-stage work from LABA fellows has continued on to such places as 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, second-stage 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.

Sunday, May 6 at 11:59PM
Once the application is received, the Artistic Director and a panel of artists and faculty will review all eligible applications. Finalists will be contacted for in-person interviews taking place at the 14th Street Y the week of May 21st.