A 20-year art and advocacy project on the Lower East Side of New York City, by artists, students, planners and activists.


We are a think tank, an arts collective, a mix of activism and creativity. We are creating long-term creative strategies to respond to displacement and gentrification, so that the people who have been living here for generations have a say in how our city evolves. Perfect City projects are created by theater, music, literary and visual artists, activists, planners, students and other Lower East Siders. We welcome your support.  

People who grow up in cities are natural born urban planners. We have to be. We ride public transit before we are even born; we use creative strategies to navigate invisible and visible boundaries as we go through our days. Somehow, though, our needs and our narratives are not at the table when decisions are being made about zoning, planning and what neighborhood is in the crosshairs of development.
Perfect City is bringing our own chairs, making a new table, whatever it takes. 

We’re based on the Lower East Side and Chinatown. Even if you are not from here, a lot of families in the US have a history with this place. It’s like a microcosm of America: diverse, vibrant, complicated, rich in history. And it’s changing. Fast. Our neighborhood feels like it’s disappearing before our eyes. 

Perfect City is a window into the wild mix of voices and views that are often cleaned up when the city is gentrified. 

For us the Perfect City is the one you can’t explain because you have to be there to experience it. This kind of mixture is what our working group meetings are like at their best. We are a intelligent, rowdy and discursive mix of idea-makers, art-makers and thinkers who care a lot about this place. We want to include everyone’s story and value in the evolution of the neighborhood and the city. 

Maybe our more radical proposition is that Perfect City is a 20-year project, and we think it’s a valid use of time and resources to pay young adults who grew up in the city to generate art projects and activism. On one hand our conversations are wide-ranging, from aesthetics to zoning; on the other, we have a set of long-term goals that are very concrete (link to website). 

Perfect City has been supported by The Jerome Foundation, Graham Foundation, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Princeton University, The Rubin Foundation, Crossing The Line and Abrons Arts Center.



AVOIDANCE MAPPING – this exercise came out of a meeting this fall. It’s a way to identify unconscious bias, the sophisticated ways we know about where to go and who to steer clear of, and how there are many cities mapped onto one concrete location. Avoidance Mapping has been done as a workshop with the Architectural League, and will be part of a new opera project this fall. Read more about it here (LINK TO URBAN OMNIBUS)

ORIGINAL NEW YORKERS – Perfect City working group member’s Haruka Sakaguchi’s award-winning photography and text series of New Yorkers’ experiences with displacemenet is beautiful, stark and challenging. It will be in the main Abrons Arts Center gallery for our fall launch. Find it online here (LINK TO SITE)

ROUNDTABLE PERFORMANCES – Last fall, as part of the Crossing The Line Festival, presented by FIAF/The French Institute, we presented roundtable performances for audiences that included our neighbors, visitors from Berlin and other cities, planners and arts audiences. These roundtables included facts and figures about gentrification and zoning, provocations to become better activists, as well as songs, multilingual dialogues and conversations. This form will be part of our Fall roll-out at Abrons. 

Articles – Last year we wrote a commissioned article about what we’re doing, and the possibilities we want to grow, for ArtsEverywhere.ca; this summer we’ll have an article on urban


Read Perfect City’s commissioned article on the Arts Everywhere website 

Back our Perfect City kickstarter today!!!

Read Perfect City’s co-authored article on Urban Omnibus!