NYCulture 2019

Partnering with Cultural Affairs
student spray paint

NYCulture 2019

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Thanks to the ongoing support of NYC Council Members Justin Brannan, Fernando Cabrera, Donovan Richards, Andrew Cohen, Carlina Rivera, and Matthieu Eugene, in 2019 the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs directly invested in our work with fourteen public schools and a NYCHA senior center through the Cultural Immigrants Fund, Cultural After-School Adventures (CASA), Art a Catalyst for Change, and Su-CASA initiatives. Those investments supported Murals and Music programs in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, and the Rockaways, and a borough-wide arts festival in Queens.

This was our fourth year partnering with the Department of Cultural Affairs. Read about each initiative below, but first, a virtual tour of the students’ completed work from the duration of our partnership. (Previous reports: 2018; 2017; 2016.)

NYCulture Sponsored Murals (since 2016)

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NYCulture Sponsored Music

2019 Queens HeART Beat Festival

Art as Catalyst for Change

Borough-wide, Art as Catalyst for Change funding allowed us to:

  • Produce the 2019 HeART Beat Festival as the Queens culminating event for initiative;
  • Host middle school students from five schools for a 3-hour field-day style arts festival arranged in fourteen activity centers.
  • Enjoy the HeART Beat 2019 Photo Diary here.

At MS 42Q, Art as Catalyst for Change funding allowed us to:

  • Provide 200 middle school students accredited, in-school Murals and Music classes for an entire semester;
  • Provide 30 students and 40 volunteers after school and weekend Murals programs;
  • Produce the 400 square-foot “Anything is Possible” mural, one year-end celebration, and one original song.

At MS 183Q, Art as Catalyst for Change funding allowed us to:

  • Provide 180 middle school students accredited, in-school Murals classes for an entire semester;
  • Produce 400 square-foot “Yes I Can” exterior mural, and one year-end celebration.

CASA - Cultural After School Adventures

The CASA grant supported a fifteen-week, multidisciplinary after school arts program offered on Mondays and Tuesdays from January 2 – April 30 at MS/HS 141 Riverdale/Kingsbridge Academy, along with supplemental production days on select Saturdays and winter and spring break days. Students worked collaboratively to conceive, design, and produce two interior school murals which were subsequently installed in prominent locations on campus; unveiled at a ceremony attended by Council Member Andrew Cohen on May 16th; and showcased at the school’s spring arts festival. Our core rosters included 18 students. Indirect recipients of the completed mural include approximately 1,700 enrolled students, faculty, staff, and parents who see them daily.


The SU-CASA grant supported a fifteen week Senior Murals Collection (SMC) Workshop and the collaborative design, production, and celebration of the “Roots/Raices” mural series at the NYCHA / Lillian Wald Senior Center in the Lower East Side. In a series of six workshops in March and April, seniors developed the concept, content, and design of the murals. After receiving approval of the designs from NYCHA in May, we produced the murals with the help of seniors, students, and community volunteers throughout the month of June. The “Roots/Raíces” murals provide a visual narrative of the history of the Alphabet City community in the Lower East Side. This series of five murals reside on five exterior walls of the Lillian Wald Senior Center at the corner of Houston Street and Avenue D: Piraguas; Coquí; Flor de Maga; Alphabet City; Capicu.

Immigrants Cultural Fund

With support from the Cultural Immigrant Initiative, Thrive Collective provided visual arts classes and after-school programs for 430 students at six schools in Brooklyn and The Bronx, including:

  • PS 204 (Brooklyn)
  • PS 245 (Brooklyn)
  • IS 30 (Brooklyn)
  • International School for Liberal Arts (ISLA) (Bronx, Walton Campus)
  • Kingsbridge International School (Bronx, Walton Campus)
  • Teaching Arts and Professions HS (Bronx, Walton Campus)
  • Celia Cruz HS (Bronx, Walton Campus)

Each program explored the respective immigrant cultural diversity within each campus, and produced five public art murals totaling 2,200 square feet. Classes began in February, and empowered students, parents, volunteers, and faculty at each school to design and execute their respective murals from April – June.

The murals explored various themes related to the immigrant experience. In each instance, the students considered their own personal experiences as immigrants or as neighbors welcoming new immigrants into the community, and designed their murals around the following themes:

  • “The Games We Play” (PS 204)
  • “Creators” (PS 245)
  • “Opportunity” (IS 30)
  • “Resilience” (IS 30)
  • “Global Gastronomy” (Walton Campus)

The programs included age-appropriate, in-school and out-of-school instruction that developed mural and life skills such as design, image transfer, color mixing, painting, communication, teamwork, conflict resolution, resilience, and leadership. Throughout the projects, school alumni and other students earned community service volunteers hours. We celebrated the student work at ribbon cutting celebration events on completion of the projects throughout the month of June.

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