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Mapping & Building Capacity of Rockaway’s Arts & Cultural Ecology 


Client: NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs (DCLA)

Partners: Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability & Equity (RISE), Rockaway Artists Alliance, Far Rockaway Arverne Nonprofit Coalition

Read the full report here. 

RISE worked in collaboration with local partners to build a Neighborhood Arts and Cultural Inventory. The 6-month process engaged over 500+ local residents and stakeholders—through multilingual surveys, focus groups, interviews, and  townhalls—to document cultural assets, considered local history, and explored opportunities and challenges to the existing arts and cultural ecology. The final inventory provides insights, depicts local contexts, and reveals the interconnections between community and art, past and present, but also its role in Rockaway’s vitality. The aim is for the inventory to spur more investment in local arts (in 2016  Rockaway receives less than 0.19% in Cultural Development Funds from DCLA) and help build the capacity and networks of indigenous artists and arts organizations. 

The project is part of DCLA’s Building Community Capacity, an initiative that takes a collaborative and comprehensive approach to building cultural capacity in low-income neighborhoods undergoing multiple city-led projects. The multi-year program strives to ensure both that culture is included as part of the City’s interagency efforts around neighborhood planning, affordable housing, economic development, and that local cultural stakeholders have ownership and voice in their own community’s development efforts.

In 2019, I wrote the winning proposal for Phase II which will include a comprehensive civic engagement process to develop a shared vision andstrategies to bring about enduring community-level transformation.

Images courtesy of RISE & NYC DCLA.
Photos by Joshua Simpson, Giles Ashford, the Rockaway Field Guide, and Ana Fisyak.