Vision 1 Goal


In July 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs released CreateNYC, the City’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan. Building on a deep public engagement process that included 400 live events and the feedback of nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, CreateNYC lays out a blueprint for addressing the long-term health and vitality of the cultural sector while targeting funds to historically underserved communities. With an initial investment of $15 million, the plan features a number of immediate actions to address equity and inclusion, affordability, arts and culture in public spaces, and other strategies to help arts and culture grow across the five boroughs.

IndicatorRate of cultural participation in key neighborhoods
Previous Data1.7
cultural experiences per household a year (2015)
Latest Data1.2
cultural experiences per household a year (2016)

Supported communities in creating their own cultural visions

CreateNYC was informed by the Social Impact of the Arts Project’s (SIAP) groundbreaking two-year study, which explored the relationship between arts and culture and social wellbeing on the neighborhood level. The study discovered that cultural assets are not distributed evenly across the city, and that the presence of cultural assets in low-income communities correlates with improved outcomes in education, health, and safety. These findings laid an empirical foundation for many CreateNYC recommendations and helped substantiate the rationale behind the Building Community Capacity (BCC) program.

A strong ecosystem of individuals, organizations, and agencies are essential for addressing cultural issues on a community level. BCC supports communities by empowering local stakeholders to create their own vision and by providing multi-year support toward executing strategic cultural plans in targeted neighborhoods. Thus far, the program created a steering committee led by an active coalition of diverse local stakeholders from East Brooklyn, Northern Manhattan, the South Bronx, and Southeast Queens. Each of the four communities identified local cultural needs and assets; created culture-related databases and local calendars; nurtured new leadership; and built cross-sector relationships between local arts agents and other community stakeholders. In January 2018, the BCC program launched in three neighborhoods: Bushwick, Far Rockaway, and Morrisania.

Public Artists in Residence (PAIR)

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) and artist Tania Bruguera initiated CycleNews, a layered and collaborative art performance and community organizing tactic in which a bicycle messenger group opened opportunities for two-way dialogue between the agency and those most affected by immigration policies. CycleNews began as a pilot in Corona, Queens—one of the city’s most immigrant-rich neighborhoods—with a group of neighborhood mothers and activists, the Mujeres en Movimiento. The Mujeres went out on weekly CycleNews shifts, delivering trusted information from the agency to community members and, in turn, bringing back information about what their neighbors need from the city to feel safe and welcome. Since the completion of the pilot, MOIA has been working with local immigrant rights groups to explore how to implement CycleNews in neighborhoods across the city. By using creative and performative tools to build trust and long-term relationships between new immigrant communities and the government, CycleNews demonstrates how art itself can be a solution to the city’s challenges.

Integrated artists into City Government to promote creative problem solving

In the fall of 2015, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) launched PAIR, an inter-agency initiative that embeds artists with New York City public agencies in order to use creative, collaborative art practices to discover solutions to pressing civic challenges. The program takes its name and inspiration from artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ pioneering residency with the NYC Department of Sanitation, an ongoing collaboration since 1977.

In its first iteration, PAIR established initial pilot residencies with five City agencies: the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, the New York City Department of Veterans Services, the Administration for Children’s Services, the Department of Design and Construction, and the New York City Housing Authority. In 2018, DCLA launched its second PAIR cohort with the Department of Correction, the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, and the Commission on Human Rights. Each residency begins with a three-month research period leading to a project proposal followed by project implementation.