REPORT RELEASE! Creative Transformations

Our Creative Transformations: Arts, Culture and Public Housing Communities program was shaped by a research and planning process, kicked off by a cross-sector roundtable held in July 2015. The program ultimately grew to support 17 pilot projects, including 19 partners and the participation of more than a thousand public housing residents and artists. You can find summaries of the complete list of partner projects here. In our Creative Transformations: Stories, Learnings, and Recommendations to Support Arts, Culture, and Public Housing Communities report, which you can download at the button, learn about key themes that have come out of the program so far, plus recommendations and tips to support and do the work well.

While arts and culture are often valued by community members, their role in strengthening community wellbeing and as part of activism is often underestimated. There is also a history of well-meaning but sporadic cultural programs in public housing that too often overlook the creative leadership of public housing residents and end as soon as funding runs out.

Three key learnings guide our work:

  • Programs must further the leadership, self-determination, and creativity of public housing residents. There are many diverse artists and cultural programs that exist within public housing that need support. Additionally, there are many previously successful programs that have been lost due to funding cutbacks in public housing
  • Resourced cultural organizations and artists can have a positive impact in public housing when they carry out their work with exemplary practices. These practices include respect for cultural and neighborhood context, reciprocal partnerships, and meaningful engagement of residents.
  • Arts and culture can enhance housing advocacy and neighborhood preservation and development, with artists and youth in leadership roles. Arts and culture can share stories; shift narratives; further community engagement and multilingual participation; and raise visibility through media, theater, murals, and graphic design

Key themes in the report, illustrated through examples of projects in neighborhoods across New York City, describe how arts and culture in public housing communities can:

  • support community leadership and resident organizing
  • break down isolation, connecting fellow public housing residents and their neighbors
  • build community cultural infrastructure
  • strengthen activism
  • further economic development and entrepreneurship
  • shape community planning
  • deepen healing

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