Building Community Capacity

About the Initiative

The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs’ community arts development program, Building Community Capacity (BCC), strives to reinforce arts and culture’s transformative role in building and maintaining meaningful, healthy, and equitable neighborhoods. Taking a community-centric focus, the three year program brings together diverse local cultural stakeholders to explore local context, create a community shared vision for arts and culture, and chart a course for collective action.

During the program’s current iteration, community members from Bushwick, Brooklyn; Far Rockaway, Queens; and Morrisania, Bronx are working together to address challenging and important issues that face or intersect with local arts and culture. By customizing the program’s collaborative framework and tools, community members will be able to identify and align local critical issues, resources, and potential solutions for how they want their community to be.

BCC is partially funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through their Community Development Block Grant program.

Phase I: Research and Discovery (completed Summer 2019)

In each of the three designated neighborhoods, a community-based development organization and a cultural nonprofit partner were selected through a competitive application process. Each team received over $80,000 in funding to participate in this first phase of the BCC program. Grantees employed various 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.

Through community-based research, grantees demonstrated how arts and culture uniquely enlivens and enriches a neighborhood. They documented cultural assets, considered relevant local history, and explored who is present, including key demographics as well as participant feedback regarding cultural interests, behaviors, motivations and challenges. Comprehensive findings, released as three community-specific Neighborhood Arts and Culture Inventories, provide insights, depict local context, and reveal not only the interconnections between community and art, past and present, but also suggest why culture is vital to a neighborhood’s future.

Bushwick, Brooklyn Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventory (PDF)
Compiled by El Puente and Bushwick Starr

Far Rockaway, Queens Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventory (PDF)
Compiled by Rockaway Waterfront Alliance and Rockaway Artists Alliance

Morrisania, Bronx Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventory (PDF) 
Compiled by WHEDco and DreamYard

Phase II: Building Infrastructure (anticipated launch Fall 2019)

Working with diverse community cultural stakeholders, newly selected Building Community Capacity grantees will continue to build awareness of, interest in, and support for local arts and culture. This phase centers on building local capacity to enhance arts and culture’s role in community development and to establish sustainable change. Resources, workshops, and cohort convenings provide opportunities to grow skills, as well as to support strengthening relationships across sectors during and after BCC. The variety of activities are structured to provide participants with constructive and enduring capacities as well as to help them progress toward their goals.

DCLA seeks community-based development organizations serving Bushwick, Far Rockaway, or Morrisania to apply for BCC Phase II. Applications will be available on this website in late Summer 2019.