On the wall

Transform/Restore: Brownsville


Categories: Youth Programs

Two years. Five walls. Forty young people.
One incredible transformation.
This week, the City of New York announced that Groundswell has been awarded a prestigious $100,000 Our Town grant to support a transformative mural project, entitled “Transform/Restore: Brownsville.”
As the sole New York City recipient, Groundswell will team up with the NYC Department of Probation and the Pitkin Avenue Business Improvement District to engage young adults on probation in the transformation of vandalized walls in Brownsville into public art, to be enjoyed by the neighborhood’s 116,000 residents.
The project will kick off in September 2013, as Groundswell prepares to celebrate the vision and leadership of NYC Department of Probation Commissioner Vincent N. Schiraldi at our 17th Annual Art Auction Benefit.
As Commissioner Schiraldi shared, “Thanks to this generous grant, we will be able to build upon our already strong relationship with Groundswell and the Pitkin Avenue BID to make visible and permanent change in Brownsville, not just on the walls of Pitkin Avenue but also in the hearts and minds of people on probation.”
This participatory public art project is designed to engage high-risk young adults, local businesses, and community members in creating visible and permanent change in one of New York City's most challenged neighborhoods.
Brownsville has the highest concentration of public housing of any neighborhood in the nation, and 1 in 12 Brownsville men between the ages of 16 to 24 are in prison.
Through this collaboration, Groundswell will work with young adults identified by the Department of Probation to conduct community interviews and surveys that identify Brownsville's hidden strengths, and then translate their findings into visual imagery for large-scale murals.
“This grant will enable Groundswell to provide talented youth and young probationers a highly visible platform to create lasting change within their own neighborhood,” said Amy Sananman, Groundswell Executive Director. “Through this innovative collaboration, Groundswell and our project partners will provide a model for other communities to use art as a tool for personal and societal transformation.”
The National Endowment for the Arts announced 59 Our Town grant awards totaling $4.725 million and reaching 34 states. Through Our Town, the NEA supports creative placemaking projects that help transform communities into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core. The grantee projects will encourage creative activity, create community identity and a sense of place, and help revitalize local economies.
To view a complete listing of projects recommended for Our Town grant support, please visit the NEA web site at arts.gov

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