The former Public School 122 was abandoned and in disrepair when a group of visual artists began to use the old classrooms for studios. In 1979, choreographer Charles Moulton began holding rehearsals and workshops in the second floor cafeteria, and invited fellow performers Charles Dennis, Tim Miller and Peter Rose to collaborate in the administration and use of the space.
P.S. 122 began its presentation history in 1980 with the first Avant-Garde-Arama, a multidisciplinary showcase and published its first complete calendar of performances, classes, workshops and more.
Mark Russell was hired as artistic director in 1983 to curate and focus the overall programming, expanding it from a rental house into a year round presenting facility.
P.S.122 doubled its programming in 1986 when it converted the old "gym" on the first floor of the old school building into a performance space to be used for extended runs of small theatre groups and as a site for community meetings.
Mr. Russel departed in 2004, and a new artistic director, Vallejo Gantner, began in the position with the 2005 - 2006 season, and he is still artistic director.
In 2005, it was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
P.S. 122 now boasts two theatres with presentation programs of dance, performance, music, film, and video, professional technical and administrative staffs, a national touring program, an active commission program, low-cost rehearsal space and more. Its first floor space (the former school gym) is a small 69-seat black box approximately 30' wide by 22' deep with a 10'10" lighting grid height; its second floor space (the former school cafeteria) is a larger 128-seat black box, 50' wide by 32' deep with a 12' lighting grid height.
P.S. 122 is located at 150 1st Avenue, at the corner of 9th Street, in Manhattan.