New York, NY – July 26, 2021 –– The Tribeca Film Institute (TFI) today announced the launch of STAR,

the Storefront Arts Recovery Initiative – which will foster a collaboration between property owners and

artists to allow storefronts left vacant due to the pandemic to transform through art activations.

Building on New York’s continued economic recovery, TFI’s STAR initiative is partnering with local artists,

property owners, and neighborhood stakeholders to activate vacant storefronts and repurpose them to

showcase the resiliency of the city’s cultural and artistic communities. This unique initiative will highlight

New York City’s creative community, and positions local artists as key partners in the city’s rebuilding,

while communities and businesses will benefit from increased foot traffic and economic activity because

of STAR’s activations.

Founded twenty years ago to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of lower Manhattan

following the attacks on the World Trade Center, TFI has created opportunities to champion emerging

storytellers, filmmakers and creators. With strong roots in independent film, the Institute and Festival

have been a platform for creative expression, discovering diverse voices and curating innovative

experiences with new technology and ideas through labs, mentorship, filmmaker development

programs, premieres, exhibitions, immersive entertainment, talks, and live performances.

After the onset COVID pandemic, TFI was temporarily placed on pause. But now, as the city continues to

reemerge from 2020, this is the perfect time for TFI to resume its original mission and once again inspire

community rebirth through creative and artistic endeavors.

“TFI’s mission since its early days has been to revitalize communities through the arts. Whether through

the Tribeca Festival, or our STAR program, which we are thrilled to announce today, TFI remains

steadfast in celebrating the arts while bringing people and communities together, especially during the

most challenging times,” said Jane Rosenthal, Co-Founder and CEO of Tribeca Enterprises, Tribeca

Festival and Co-Chair of Tribeca Film Institute along with Robert De Niro and Scott Rechler.

This new initiative also follows the recent Tribeca Festival which celebrated its 20th anniversary by

organizing 250+ dynamic events and the free borough to borough screening series which together,

brought the festival directly to neighborhoods across all five boroughs and to some of New York City’s

most iconic open-air venues. The Tribeca was the first in-person arts festival to bring back live

entertainment and proudly welcomed over 100K+ attendees.

STAR was born after civic leaders Jane Rosenthal, Jamie Rubin, Scott Rechler, and Carl Weisbrod came

together with the mission of rebuilding New York’s communities.

“As we begin to rebuild New York City’s economy, we need to come up with creative solutions that

enliven our neighborhoods in the short-term as we plan for the long-term,” said STAR founder Jamie

Rubin. “Offering vacant storefronts as a blank canvas for New York City artists will showcase our

homegrown talent, while spurring economic activity in New York’s struggling neighborhoods. The

Tribeca Film Festival proved that showcasing independent artists could help rebuild and revitalize Lower

Manhattan, and I wanted to replicate and expand on that mission citywide as we recover from Covid-


“Matching New York City’s deep and diverse pool of artists in temporarily vacant storefronts with

its wide range of exciting, diverse neighborhoods provides a wonderful opportunity to show off

the city’s rich cultural talent to residents and visitors alike,” said Carl Weisbrod, Senior Advisor at

HR&A Advisors. “Pairing available real estate with the arts to create an outdoor museum will

accelerate New York’s economic recovery.”

“We are very pleased to partner with TFI and the STAR program to provide a showcase for the city’s

talented artists,” said Ehud Kupperman, Head of New York City Retail at Madison International Realty.

“Madison International Realty has a strong tradition of supporting the arts at our properties. We believe

the link between the real estate community and the arts is vital to New York City and the Times Square

neighborhood. “

STAR is launching with four pilot projects in partnership with Times Square Arts, the public art program

of the Times Square Alliance. The initial projects on display as part of STAR’s launch include:

The Gang’s All Here by Andrew Bannecker, creates a fantastical atmosphere filled with colorful

creatures from all walks of imaginary life. Each line and cosmic being of this playful visual brings

a curious joy to 42nd Street. His work can be found at 225 West 42nd Street near New 42

Studios, where Bannecker is an artist-in-residence. Bannecker is known for his use of vivid

colors, patterns, and textures. From bubbly characters to sophisticated landscapes, his work is

ever evolving and manages to imbue scenes with emotive power. His work has been recognized

by American Illustration, Luerzers Archive, and Communication Arts. New 42 has generously

offered this space for Bannecker’s activation.

At A-Z of Times Square by Frances Smith at 234 West 42nd Street, is an alphabet-themed artwork

featuring iconic symbols representing New York City and Times Square. In celebration of the

many classic experiences that make this city great, this artwork is designed to engage all

generations of New Yorkers and the visiting tourist alike. Frances Smith is an Afro-Latinx

illustrator based in New York City with a background in art direction, and design. Her bold use of

colors and design aim to tell stories, amplify social justice issues and highlight underrepresented

communities. Her artwork has been featured across the city through Art on Link and nationwide

through editorial publications. Madison International Realty has generously sponsored the

space for this activation.

Zipeng Zhu wants you to know that New York loves you! Zhu’s public art installation NY❤U

transforms 20 Times Square into the face and crown of Lady Liberty, and sends an endearing

message of love and reciprocity on both the street-level storefront and in the accompanying

videos on the giant billboard above. For his STAR activation, the Chinese-born designer and art

director wanted to conjure the collective love and communal experiences shared amongst New

Yorkers, especially as we reshape new ways of being together as a society and city. While Zhu’s

colorful aesthetic and bold fonts are hard to miss, the perfect view of NY❤You is from the red

steps on Duffy Square, and his animations can be seen at the :02, :09, and :42 minute marks of

every hour. Maefield Development has generously donated the space for this event.

In A Través de la Persiana (Through the Blinds), at 8 Times Square, Damien Davis and Albert

Josue Peguero team up to explore the idea of “campo-futurism” in a digital artwork that

celebrates rural, Afro-Latinx, and queer identities. Fusing shapes and colors reminiscent of

Caribbean architectural embellishments with a nod to the old peep shows of Midtown

Manhattan, the work offers animated glimpses into windows revealing a cast of cross-cultural

silhouettes and symbolism. Davis is a Brooklyn-based artist, who explores historical

representations of Blackness by unpacking the visual language of various cultures. Peguero is a

South Bronx based, multi-media sculptor who tackles conversations around the shared

experiences of working-class immigrants in the US from a queer immigrant perspective.

Meringoff Properties generously donated the digital billboard for this project.

“We are thrilled to have the STAR initiative launch in Times Square with these works of art in our

storefronts, especially as we are seeing more and more people return to the district,” said Tom Harris,

President of the Times Square Alliance. “Times Square is an intense economic driver for the City and its

recovery is essential to the recovery of the City – we were the face of the shut down at the height of the

pandemic and we are now the face of the recovery and these artworks are great contributions to that.”

“New York City’s recovery depends on lifting up communities that have been severely affected, including

local artists and property owners with vacant sites,” said Regina Myer, President of Downtown

Brooklyn Partnership. “The launch of STAR will help economically stimulate Downtown Brooklyn while

also enabling the creative community to revitalize our storefronts with thoughtful artworks. We’re

proud to partner with the Tribeca Film Institute on this important initiative and continue supporting

local businesses and our city’s artists.”


“We are honored to be participating in the STAR program. Long Island City is a neighborhood particularly

bound to the arts, with 40 cultural institutions, dozens of galleries, multiple performance venues and

groups, and hundreds of working artists, not to mention many of the fabricators and suppliers that

artists depend on to bring their visions to physical reality. Having the arts in the public eye, as STAR will

do, keeps us all creatively stimulated and will help return a sense of joy and hope throughout NYC.”

Elizabeth Lusskin, President, Long Island City Partnership

Artists who are participating in STAR’s program are equally enthusiastic. Zipeng Zhu, the visionary

and artist behind NY❤U notes “My projects a love letter from our beloved city letting us know that it

loves us back. The arts have always been one of the backbones of New York City’s spirit and economy,

and I know that coming out of this pandemic, the arts are going to drive our recovery forward.”

Over the next few months STAR will be expanding to all five boroughs through partnerships with local

Business Improvement Districts. STAR is open to artists that live and work in New York City, and those

who wish to participate in STAR are encouraged to make their submissions via the STAR website. Artists

that are selected to participate will receive a $5,000 participation fee and a stipend for materials.

About The Tribeca Film Institute

Registered as a September 11th Public Charity, the Tribeca Film Institute was formed to create and

sponsor film-related and other cultural initiatives to foster the economic redevelopment of Lower

Manhattan. The Institute was founded as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in January 2002 by Robert

De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff.

The Institute’s signature event, the Tribeca Film Festival, launched in May 2002, bringing over 150,000

people to Lower Manhattan. The Institute is committed to developing a broad array of Lower Manhattan

community outreach programs that include career advice, mentoring, filmmaking workshops and filmrelated

panels. The Tribeca/Sloan Film Program assists screenwriters with their craft of creating realistic

and dramatic stories that popularize science and technology. Additionally, the Institute has created

Project Salute, the Tribeca military screening series that brings both premiere and current films to the

men and women of the US Armed Forces around the world.

About Times Square Arts

Times Square Arts, the public art program of the Times Square Alliance, collaborates with contemporary

artists and cultural institutions to experiment and engage with one of the world’s most iconic urban

places. Through the Square’s electronic billboards, public plazas, vacant areas and popular venues, and

the Alliance’s own online landscape, Times Square Arts invites leading contemporary creators to help the

public see Times Square in new ways. Times Square has always been a place of risk, innovation and

creativity, and the Arts Program ensures these qualities remain central to the district’s unique identity.

Generous support of Times Square Arts is provided by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; the

Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the National Endowment for the Arts; the New York State Council on the Arts

with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and public funds

from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additional

support for Midnight Moment is provided by the New York State Council on the Arts, the National

Endowment for the Arts, and the Times Square Advertising Coalition. Visit for more

information. Follow us on Instagram at @TSqArts.

About the Times Square Alliance

The Times Square Alliance works to improve and promote Times Square – cultivating the creativity, energy

and edge that have made the area an icon of entertainment, culture, and urban life for over a century.

Founded in 1992, the Alliance keeps the neighborhood clean and safe, promotes local businesses,

manages area improvements and produces major annual events with partners including New Year’s Eve,

Solstice in Times Square and Taste of Times Square. As the custodians of Times Square, the Alliance works

every day to improve the quality of life for the neighborhood residents and businesses while driving

economic growth in New York City.

Press Contacts

Jeff Gray: [email protected]

Teresa Brady: [email protected]

Sunshine Sachs: [email protected]


About Madison International Realty
Madison International Realty ( is a leading liquidity provider to real estate investors worldwide. Madison provides equity capital for real estate owners and investors seeking to monetize embedded equity, to replace capital partners seeking an exit and to recapitalize balance sheets. The firm provides equity for recapitalizations, partner buyouts and capital infusions; and acquires joint venture, limited partner and co-investment interests as principals. Madison invests in secondary transactions and focuses on existing properties and portfolios in the U.S., U.K., and Europe. Madison has offices in New York, London, Amsterdam, Luxembourg and Frankfurt, where the firm operates under the name of Madison International Realty GmbH.


Madison International Realty
Michelle Manoff
Rubenstein Public Relations
Email: [email protected]
Phone +1 212-805-3051