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NYC DEPARTMENT OF CULTURAL AFFAIRS RELEASES ARTS AND CULTURAL INVENTORIES FOR THREE NEIGHBORHOODS
Through Building Community Capacity, community-based development organizations and cultural nonprofits collaborated to survey arts and culture in Bushwick, Brooklyn; Far Rockaway, Queens; and Morrisania, Bronx
New York – The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) today released Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventories for three NYC neighborhoods – Bushwick, Brooklyn; Far Rockaway, Queens; and Morrisania, Bronx. The reports were created as a part of DCLA’s Building Community Capacity program (BCC), which takes a collaborative and comprehensive approach to community arts development in targeted low-income areas.
“The Building Community Capacity Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventories for Bushwick, Far Rockaway, and Morrisania provide incredible insight into how residents integrate cultural activities into their daily lives,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “Each community’s perspective reveals tremendous opportunities for weaving arts and culture into healthy neighborhood preservation, planning, and growth. It will be exciting to see how these reports can serve as resources for creating sustainable and positive change in the next phase of BCC and beyond.”
In each neighborhood, partnerships comprised of a community-based development organization and a cultural nonprofit received over $80,000 in funding to participate in this first phase of the BCC program. Each team employed a number of data-gathering techniques to produce snapshots reflective of the role of arts and culture in the community, as experienced and reported by community members themselves.
Each report contains:
El Puente has been committed to peace, justice, and community-based leadership development for young people and their families for three decades. They worked in Bushwick with their cultural partner, The Bushwick Starr, a theatrical venue dedicated to the idea that affordable, accessible art can obliterate the boundaries of class and cultural divides. The team discovered a strong desire among residents for cultural offerings accessible to families and multi-generational audiences. The emergence of word-of-mouth as a primary information source offers opportunities for both formal and informal cultural venues and events to build a more solid base within the community. Read the report.
Far Rockaway, Queens
The Rockaway Waterfront Alliance strives to build a stronger, more vibrant coastal community through educational programming, the arts, environmental conservation, and outdoor recreation. They were joined in their work by cultural partner Rockaway Artists Alliance, which collaborates with cultural institutions throughout NYC to bring cultural experiences, employment opportunities in the arts, and programming for all ages to the geographically isolated peninsula. The team found that only 8% of those who participated in cultural events did so in a formal venue such as a museum. Still, in locations such as parks and libraries, the arts have served as a powerful connecting and healing force in this community, as demonstrated during the recovery from Hurricane Sandy. Read the report.
Morrisania, The Bronx
A force in giving the South Bronx access to resources necessary for a thriving vibrant community for a quarter century, the Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) turned their focus to the Morrisania neighborhood. Their cultural partner, DreamYard Project, Inc., supports young people by nurturing artistic expression and cultivating skills necessary to reach positive goals. This partnership emphasized Morrisania’s rich musical heritage from jazz to hip-hop, a legacy of innovation which will continue with the opening of the Bronx Music Hall this fall. Another neighborhood strength is its significant amount of accessible green space, which may explain why residents are twice as likely to attend a cultural event outdoors in a park or street than in a formal cultural venue. Read the report.
Photos from each report may be downloaded here. Photo credits are included in each file name.
“The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA)’s release of Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventory for Bushwick, Brooklyn aims to highlight the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage and thriving creative arts community,” said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. “Local groups El Puente and Bushwick Starr conducted meaningful outreach and, in collaboration with DCLA, compiled demographical data to not only catalog Bushwick’s longstanding and newer arts offerings, but also to express the realities of rising costs of living and the hindrance that this can pose to accessing and participating with these assets. The spirit and voices of Bushwick are captured in this report, and I am proud of the recommendations produced by El Puente, Bushwick Starr, and the DCLA to preserve and increase access for all residents.”
“The Far Rockaway arts scene has many challenges from location to the lack of resources for local organizations, but the Department of Cultural Affairs’ Create Far Rock Initiative has shown the vast potential and hunger for more opportunities is alive and well in our communities,” said Council Member Donovan Richards. “Now that DCLA has collected community feedback and highlighted the strengths and weaknesses in the area, I look forward to partnering with Commissioner Finkelpearl, his team and all of our amazing local organizations who have been doing the work on the ground to keep our cultural community alive over the years. Our office cannot wait to start delivering the resources to our community partners to allow them to continue to create, exhibit and perform all year round. I’d like to thank the entire team at DCLA and all of our community members who participated in this process that led to this roadmap for cultural success in our neighborhoods.”
"Throughout the history of the South Bronx, the contributions of musicians and artists have served as a bond between people of all backgrounds and communities," said Council Member Rafael Salamanca. "Thanks to DCLA's partnership with WHEDco and the DreamYard Project through the Building Community Capacity initiative, the city has not only highlighted the historical significance of art in the area, but provided the valuable resources on how to preserve and build on this rich heritage for generations to come."
Building Community Capacity’s broad goals are to ensure that culture is included as part of the City’s interagency efforts around neighborhood planning and economic development; and that local cultural stakeholders have a voice in their own community’s overall development strategies and efforts. In each neighborhood, the program takes a two-phase approach to addressing these goals.
Phase 1: Research and Discovery
The first phase of the current BCC program began with an open application process. Only residential neighborhoods currently or recently involved in a community development initiative conducted by the City of New York and with a population over 51% low- or moderate-income were eligible to participate. The Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventories are the culmination of this phase.
Phase II: Building Infrastructure
The second phase, launching later this year, will build on the findings of the Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventories. Working with diverse neighborhood stakeholders, community-based development organizations will continue to build awareness of, interest in, and support for local arts and culture in Bushwick, Far Rockaway, and Morrisania. This phase centers on building local capacity to enhance the role of art and culture in community development and to promote sustainable change.
BCC is partially funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through their Community Development Block Grant program.
About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/culture.