News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: January 23, 2020


Contact:; 212-513-9323


Now in its third year, the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact will support ten unique partnerships between NYC municipal agencies and non-profit cultural organizations

New York – The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs has announced grants for ten partnerships under the Fiscal Year 2020 Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact (MGCI). Through a total of nearly $1 million in cash and in-kind support, MGCI supports a programming partnership between a non-profit cultural organization and a New York City agency. Four programs first supported in Fiscal Year 2019 will be funded for a second year, and six projects will be funded for the first time. Now in its third year, MGCI is an outgrowth of CreateNYC that invests in unique partnerships that allow agencies to deepen and enhance services for their constituents, bringing the benefits of cultural engagement to residents across the city while helping to address a range of civic and social issues including homelessness, joblessness, climate change, aging, bias, and more.

“Culture is a defining asset of New York City,” said Department of Cultural Affairs Acting Commissioner Kathleen Hughes. “These inspiring partnerships between nonprofit cultural groups and municipal agencies offer an opportunity to deepen the connection my agency makes daily between our communities and our cultural partners. Through the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact, our work with other City agencies produces a multiplier effect, funding innovative, creative programs that unlock the power of the arts in public service. We are proud to continue investing in these transformative efforts.”

Today’s announcement includes funding for 10 partnerships: six first-time MGCI programs selected through an open call and application process, and four renewals of awarded projects from the pilot year. Each program will receive $50,000 in cash support from the Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA), and an additional match of in-kind and/or cash award from the partnering agency, for a total of nearly $1 million in City support across all ten programs. MGCI programs must conclude by the close of the fiscal year on June 30, 2020.

Images from the 2020 MGCI grantees can be found here.

  • The six new MGCI partnerships are:

Partners: Beam Center, Inc. and NYC Human Resources Administration

Program: Beam x HRA

Beam Center and Human Resources Administration will launch a new program to serve young adults who are interested in the cultural arts and are out of work and/or school, to collaboratively design and build a large-scale art installation in the Brownsville community. This program will cultivate technical, creative, and fabrication skills. Participants will receive mentoring and career guidance towards the pursuit of creative and cultural careers. Youth will be recruited from one of HRA’s Youth Services under the division of Career Services.

Partners: BRIC and NYC Department for Consumer and Worker Protection

Program: Art & Media for Worker Protection

BRIC and the NYC Department for Consumer and Worker Protection will create compelling media and cultural experiences to amplify key voices in the worker protection movement, engage impacted communities in critical advocacy, and raise public awareness of the agency’s mission and services. This work builds upon and expands DCWP’s We Fight for Every Worker in NYC print, digital, and radio campaign by engaging directly with impacted workers and social impact artists in new ways, including via workshops, videos, and live events.

Partners: Culture Push, Works on Water, and NYC Department of City Planning

Program: Walking the Edge: Connecting communities to water along NYC’s 520 miles of shoreline.

Starting in May 2020, Walking the Edge will be a durational art piece in which Culture Push and Works on Water artists will walk all 520 miles of NYC’s waterfront, 24 hours a day over the course of 20 days. It will serve as a catalyst for waterfront exploration, artistic research, community activation, and public

engagement for the City’s Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which seeks to connect residents with their city’s coastal edge. The team will develop a variety of tools, including Walk-Your-Edge, encouraging people to record and share walks along their local waterfront; Adopt-Your-Edge, working with local elected officials and communities to invite the public to come together to walk part of their waterfront together; and Conversing with Communities, where oral history experts will interview the public during walks, capturing discussions as part of the broader outreach for the Comprehensive Waterfront Plan.

Partners: NYC Children’s Theater and NYC Department of Education

Program: Music and Multilingual Learners:

Music and Multilingual Learners supports language development for multilingual learners through music and theater by immersing elementary students learning English in arts-integrated instruction. The residency uses NYC Children’s Theater’s theater and music curriculum to develop literacy and build social-emotional skills. The pilot will take place in District 10 public schools, a high needs Bronx district. Support from the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact will help identify teaching practices that can be implemented across the school system.

Partners: Dixon Place, National Queer Theater, and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs

Program: Criminal Queerness Festival

Dixon Place with National Queer Theater will work with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs to amplify outreach efforts geared towards NYC’s LGBTQ immigrant communities. Together, they will produce the 2020 Criminal Queerness Festival, an arts activism project that showcases 4 international playwrights whose works cannot be performed in their home countries due to censorship. The festival will be augmented by an array of community programs with the Mayor’s Office.

Partners: Theatre of the Oppressed NYC and Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice

Program: Participatory Justice / Participatory Theatre

Theatre of the Oppressed NYC will partner with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice to create Forum Theatre Troupes in partnership with individuals living in public housing across New York City. These Troupes will create plays directly representing their experiences of oppression, responding to issues within their communities, and improvising solutions both locally and structurally city-wide. At performances, audiences made up of community members, activists, advocates, and policy-makers will be invited to propose concrete, actionable policy change in response to the issues represented, and then to improvise those changes on stage.

  • The four MGCI partnerships being renewed are:

Partners: Concerts in Motion and Department for the Aging

Program: Expanded Concert Series for Homebound and Isolated Older Adults

Concerts in Motion, a nonprofit organization that combines arts programming with human services, will continue partnering with the Department for the Aging, whose network includes hundreds of community-based organizations serving older adults, to provide personal, live musical performance to low-income, older adults, a growing population that typically has limited access to the city’s cultural offerings. Concerts take place in private home and group settings at naturally occurring retirement communities and senior centers.

Partners: Irondale Productions and the New York City Police Department

Program: To Protect, Serve and Understand

Irondale and NYPD will build upon a program that uses theatrical improvisation to bring police officers and civilians to a place of greater empathy and understanding. Over 10 wks. (52 hrs.), participants are taught skills of dynamic listening, and to know how they are being heard. Officers and civilians will “step into each other’s shoes” and by doing so, decrease tensions between them. Following the workshop series, 2 public performances will be held at Irondale.

Partners: PEN American Center and Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment

Program: DREAMing Out Loud

This tuition-free writing workshop for undocumented New Yorkers is led by award-winning authors. The program was designed to help to build a diverse talent pipeline to the publishing industry, and to give DREAMers the opportunity to use their voices to counter misinformation about immigrants. Participants develop original short stories, poetry, and personal essays that they perform at public readings. Thanks to support from the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment, these works are published in a yearly anthology; participants are given access to major publishing houses including Penguin Random House; and the program has expanded beyond Manhattan to three CUNY campuses: Lehman College (Bronx), Queens College & Medgar Evers College (Brooklyn).

Partners: Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and NYC Department of Homeless Services

Program: Rhythm & Voice: Music and Mentoring Program for Homeless Youth

Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls and the NYC Department of Homeless Services will continue to partner on Rhythm & Voice, a free music and mentoring program for homeless youth at a DHS-operated family shelter in Canarsie, Brooklyn. Working with experienced teaching artists, participants will meet weekly to learn percussion, vocal, and song-writing techniques to create original music, and develop self-expression, self-efficacy, a strong sense of community, and an awareness of their creative potential.

“From providing essential benefits to offering career-readiness resources and job training programs, we at HRA are committed to fighting income inequality and helping New Yorkers in need access opportunity,” said HRA Administrator Grace Bonilla. “We are thrilled to continue our collaboration with the Beam Center on this initiative that uses creativity to empower young New Yorkers and grow the skills they’ve developed through our career pathway programs.”

“At the Department of Homeless Services, we are committed to raising the bar for families experiencing homelessness as they get back on their feet," said Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter. "The Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls’ joyful programming and mentorship reinforce our dedication to encouraging creativity, confidence and learning—and exemplify how innovative collaborations are helping us transform a haphazard shelter system decades in the making. We are thankful to the Department of Cultural Affairs for renewing the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact for Willie Mae Rock Camp, reaching even more families and helping more ambitious young New Yorkers reach for the [rock] stars.”

"Beam Center is thrilled to collaborate with HRA to offer young people hands-on and purposeful creative and technical learning experiences,” said Brian Cohen, Executive Director of Beam Center. “We are grateful to the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs for recognizing the part that ambitious, community project-making plays in supporting young peoples' development of valuable skills and sense of agency."

“We are excited to continue our enriching partnership with Concerts in Motion, which hosted over 225 concerts for isolated, low-income older New Yorkers in 2019,” said NYC Department for the Aging Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “Partnerships that support community-based nonprofits and exceptional programming and services like this are essential as we strive to find innovative ways to increase quality-of-life and combat social isolation among older adults.”

“Willie Mae Rock Camp is honored and grateful to engage for a second year with these inspiring youth,” said Suzanne Cronin Tillman, Interim Executive Director, Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. “In partnership with the Department of Homeless Services, we look forward to providing essential music and social justice programming that seeks to amplify and uplift the voices of youth living in the shelter system.”

“We are thrilled that DREAMing Out Loud has been renewed for a second year and will continue to help young writers find their voices, readers and careers in publishing,” said NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Anne del Castillo. “New York is the ultimate city of immigrants, and we’re fighting every day to make the creative economy accessible to all.” 

"On behalf of the Board of Directors of Concerts in Motion, we are pleased to be a recipient of Mayor Grant for Cultural Impact. Thanks to this grant we have reached more than 1,000 additional low income, isolated older adults in private home and group settings through our partners at the NYC Department of Aging. We are so honored to be able to serve New York City's older adult community in this way," said Jennifer Finn, Founder and Executive Director of Concerts in Motion.

“Art can be a powerful, meaningful medium to share our lived experiences and create change both within each other and our communities,” said Renita Francois, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. “We’re grateful to the Theatre of the Oppressed and the Department of Cultural Affairs for their support of public housing residents who offer not just their stories but also solutions for the public safety issues that they encounter every day.”

"We are honored and excited to be chosen as a recipient of the 2020 Mayor's Grant for Cultural Impact,” said NYC Children’s Theater Executive Director Andrew Frank. “We deeply believe that enhanced and authentic arts programs for students who are multilingual learners will help in their artistic, academic, social, and emotional development. We aim to create a model for teaching practices in arts and education that will benefit students learning English in many more schools in the future."

“Theatre of the Oppressed NYC is excited to partner with the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice,” said Meggan Gomez, Executive Director of Theatre of the Oppressed NYC (TONYC). “With funding from the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact, we will create a template for discussions around social justice issues that forefront the voices of those most affected. We look forward to developing this project, and long term, to seeing it used city-wide.”

"There is something in our DNA that compels us to connect with other human beings. There's also a lot of 'baggage' we put in the way of those connections. If we can lose the baggage; if we can get to the place where we can really see and really hear each other, then perhaps we can make those connections, find the commonalities, and decrease the fear that keeps us apart. The techniques of the actor/improviser are invaluable in helping people make and strengthen these connections,” said Terry Greiss Co-Founder and Executive Director of Irondale.

“When warm weather returns this spring, lace up your walking shoes and join us as we ‘Walk the Edge,’” said Marisa Lago, Director of the Department of City Planning. “I’m thrilled to be partnering with Culture Push and Works on Water on this artistic, fun and healthy expedition of New York City’s vast and varied waterfront that will inform the next Comprehensive Waterfront Plan. From beaches to boardwalks, piers to parks, shipyards to swimming pools, we’ll walk with and speak to New Yorkers about how we can further protect and improve our beloved waterfront for the benefit of all New Yorkers.”

"Walking the Edge is a durational public performance and series of events covering all 520 miles of New York City’s coastline, and Culture Push and Works on Water are thrilled to partner with the NYC Department of City Planning on this unusual mix of public art and urban planning,” said Clarinda Mac Low, Executive Director of Culture Push. “Walking the Edge kicks off the Works on Water 2020 Triennial, and we are excited to invite all New Yorkers to join the walk and become public artists and civic researchers imagining the future of our city’s waterways and shorelines."

“We are proud to partner with Dixon Place and the National Queer Theater to present this year's Criminal Queerness Festival,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. “Through our collaboration, we will lift up the voices of queer and trans immigrants who often face double marginalization, and reaffirm our commitment to being a home to anyone fleeing oppression and persecution. We are grateful to the Department of Cultural Affairs for funding this amazing initiative.”

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection on this project,” said BRIC President Kristina Newman-Scott. “Helping New Yorkers tell their own stories and amplify their voices around social change is a fundamental part of BRIC’s mission, so we are excited to use our resources to advance the important work of the agency and the worker protection movement.”

“We thank our sister agency, DCLA, for the opportunity to work with such an incredible organization like BRIC for CreateNYC,” said Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) Commissioner Lorelei Salas. “We are excited and looking forward to working with BRIC in our new partnership to create compelling media that promotes labor standards and policies that create fair workplaces to ensure all workers can realize their rights.”

“We’re so grateful to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for continuing to support PEN America's DREAMing Out Loud — and the DREAMers who so richly benefit from the program. At a moment when immigrants face increasing pressure in the United States, it’s a relief to know their creative passion and their humanity is being supported here in New York through the Mayor's Cultural Impact Grant. We look forward to our continued partnership with DCLA, MOME and our partners at the City University of New York in this vital work,” said Chip Rolley, Senior Director of Literary Programs, PEN America.

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 nonprofit 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