Quality Outdoor Public Space, A Need Both Timely and Timeless
12 November 2020

Outdoor public spaces have always been important, but perhaps never more so than during the months of the pandemic, when they’ve become havens for relaxation, exercise, and escape from the same few rooms we’re spending all our time in.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) believes deeply in public space as the physical infrastructure our civic fabric, and has long made grants to help create and maintain these spaces, to beautify them with art, to study their needs, and to activate them with community programming.

A recent SNF grant made as part of the Foundation’s $100 million global COVID-19 relief initiative went toward keeping the city’s open spaces ready for New Yorkers to enjoy.

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New York Restoration Project, Photo credit: Ben Hider

The NYC Green Relief and Recovery Fund, recipient of this grant, provides urgent relief to the stewardship nonprofits managing the city’s outdoor public spaces. One such nonprofit is the New York Restoration Project, which acts as a citywide conservancy to restore and improve parks and open spaces.

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New York Restoration Project, Photo credit: Ben Hider

SNF has provided past support to the Central Park Conservancy, which cares for the Park, a resource that has remained available to New Yorkers through even the most trying points of the pandemic.

“The Park keeps us sane and gives us the spirit to keep going,” commented one parkgoer.

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Photo credit: Central Park Conservancy

In Athens, SNF created one of the city’s largest outdoor public spaces with the creation of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC), the Foundation’s largest single grant to date. Stavros Niarchos Park and the SNFCC’s other outdoor spaces are activated with programming for all ages. SNF has supported efforts to make public spaces around Greece more lively and human-centric, from a pedestrianization project in central Athens, to the creation of murals on four Greek islands, to a plan to revitalize a central public space in Sparta.

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Photo credit: SNFCC

Access to outdoor space is a timely need, but it’s also a timeless one, one that calls for long-term focus.

"Through COVID-19, New Yorkers have come to rely on our parks and open spaces more than ever - for recreation, socialization, creativity, and solace," said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. "The NYC Green Relief & Recovery Fund recognizes the essential nature of our parks and open spaces and is addressing the urgent needs of volunteer and nonprofit stewardship groups that provide critical maintenance, while also spurring policy-makers to address the systemic under-funding of our parks system." 

Take in views of a selection of the outdoor public spaces SNF has helped support

Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park Roosevelt Island, New York City
Camley Street Nature Park  London
Governors Island  New York City
Fanarioton Square  Thessaloniki, Greece