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Introducing HueArts NYC: Advocating for Greater Cultural Equity Across New York City

NYC POC-Led Arts Entities Launch Digital Map, Directory, and Release Policy Framework; Call for $100M City Fund to Close Cultural Equity Gap

Today, The Laundromat Project is joining together with 412 other New York City-based arts entities founded by, led by, and serving Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color (POC), calling for leaders of our city’s cultural community to create a $100M fund to support POC-led arts entities, and to address gaps in cultural equity across the city. This call is part of the launch of HueArts NYC, the only citywide effort to bring greater cultural equity, visibility, and support to all POC cultural institutions and initiatives across NYC’s five boroughs.  

> > Read about HueArts in Artnet News

Following an extensive series of surveys, interviews, and community conversations with POC arts community leaders, we have released the HueArts NYC “brown paper” report with our partners Museum Hue and Hester Street. The report, “Mapping a Future for Arts Entities Founded and Led by Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and All People of Color in New York City,” outlines the unique contributions, assets, and challenges of POC arts entities in the face of persistently limited resources and support. It also includes six key findings and six recommendations NYC policymakers and philanthropic leaders can take to radically shift cultural equity across the city. 

For decades, POC leaders in our arts community have advocated for policy changes that would make the difference between our POC-led arts entities surviving or thriving. An initiative like this is far overdue, and so is receiving the meaningful support equal to the contributions we make in keeping New York so vibrant and special.

Kemi Ilesanmi, Executive Director, The Laundromat Project

Accompanying the release of the brown paper is a first-of-its-kind digital map and directory spotlighting more than 400 POC arts entities serving NYC neighborhoods. These tools capture critical information about the work, people, communities, and opportunities that POC arts entities offer to shape NYC’s cultural fabric and help fuel the city’s creative economy. 

Image: Neighbors drum together at the 2019 Kelly Street Annual Block Party. Photo: Abigail Montes.


“Having this data compiled and visualized in this way is a critical starting point for the city to understand our needs, and for our communities to connect with and support each other,” said Rasmia Kirmani, Interim Executive Director at Hester Street, the HueArts NYC project partner that created the design for the map and directory, website, and brown paper. “This is the first time we are organizing together, across all five boroughs, and utilizing technology to move the conversation forward in a practical and tangible way.” 

HueArts NYC is sharing the findings of the HueArts NYC brown paper in a letter addressed to Mayor Eric Adams, asking for inclusion of the recommendations in his vision for the future of NYC arts and culture. The letter to Mayor Adams, HueArts NYC Map and Directory, and HueArts NYC brown paper are all available at hueartsnyc.org

So often we hear that NYC’s policymakers and philanthropic leaders can’t find or are unfamiliar with Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color arts organizations when it’s time to make critical decisions that impact our present and future. HueArts NYC changes that. Now, we have a platform that centers our arts organizations’ contributions to the city’s arts landscape and creative economy, a map of where we are in every community, and clear recommendations to address our needs. This will help our city’s political, philanthropic, and cultural leaders increase collaboration and financial support for our arts organizations, and will have a measurable impact on neighborhoods in all five boroughs.

Stephanie A. Johnson-Cunningham, Executive Director, Museum Hue

NYC arts organizations are invited to submit their information to the HueArts NYC Map and Directory. Entities are chosen according to criteria that ensures featured organizations are founded by, led by, and directly serving Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all people of color. The map and directory will be updated bi-annually. 

Orange and yellow themed graphic includes a photo inlay of neighbors weaving together as part of a workshop facilitated by Weaving Hand and organized by 2017 Create Change Bed-Stuy Fellows. The LP Bed-Stuy Field Day, Hancock Community Garden, 2017. Photo by Neha Gautam. HueArts tagline in purple reads: "We know who we are. Do you?"
Image: Neighbors weave together as part of a workshop facilitated by Weaving Hand and organized by 2017 Create Change Bed-Stuy Fellows. The LP Bed-Stuy Field Day, Hancock Community Garden, 2017. Photo by Neha Gautam.


“When you consider how much money disproportionately goes to NYC’s predominately white institutions compared to the creative outputs by people of color and our community organizations, you get a better understanding of why our institutions sometimes fail to thrive,” said Libertad O. Guerra, Executive Director of the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center and HueArts NYC Advisory Committee member. “It’s not from lack of effort, it’s due to lack of support. HueArts NYC is our effort to make sure all of NYC understands where we are, what we do, and how they can support us—whether that is coming through the door, sharing information about our work on social media, or proposing a policy that will level the playing field in ways that will make a real difference for our POC entities, artists, cultural workers, and communities of color.” 

Key findings of the HueArts NYC brown paper include:  

  1. POC arts entities are deeply embedded in their communities, and often relied upon to provide more than just arts programming.  
  2. POC arts entities are often connected to a sense of place and neighborhood, but rarely have a truly stable space of their own.  
  3. POC arts entities are resourceful and resilient in the face of a long history of structural racism, chronic under-investment, and limited financial support.  
  4. The dearth of data and metrics on POC arts entities in NYC is significant and remarkable, creating barriers to a truly comprehensive field knowledge, visibility, and impact.  
  5. Increased staff capacity and ability to support artists are urgent and fundamental priorities for POC arts entities. 
  6. POC arts entities face extra layers of challenges to secure adequate funding in comparison to predominantly white-led arts institutions.  

The six recommendations for leaders of NYC’s policymaking and philanthropic community include: 

  1. Create a designated $100M fund for POC arts and cultural entities 
  2. Establish a substantive baseline budget line for POC arts in the City’s annual budget 
  3. Invest in place as a long-term strategy for POC art stability and thriveability 
  4. Foster career- and community-building among arts professionals at POC arts entities 
  5. Consistently collect data that furthers knowledge and promotes equity in the arts 
  6. Invest in higher and sustained visibility for POC arts entities in NYC 

The HueArts NYC Advisory Committee comprises POC arts leaders from across the NYC cultural community, including:  

  • Amy Andrieux, Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts 
  • Mahen Bonetti, African Film Festival, Inc. 
  • Andrew Clarke, Braata Productions 
  • Diane Fraher, American Indian Artists Inc. 
  • Lisa Gold, Asian American Arts Alliance 
  • Libertad O. Guerra, The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center 
  • Lorna Harris, Visionary GPS 
  • Jerron Herman, Independent Artist 
  • Jordyn Jay, Black Trans Femmes in the Arts 
  • Swati Khurana, Independent Artist 
  • Sade Lythcott, National Black Theatre 
  • Kyoung Park, Kyoung’s Pacific Beat 
  • Charles Rice-Gonzalez, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

In the coming months, HueArts NYC will continue collaborating with Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Middle Eastern, and all People of Color arts entities to present a fuller picture of the artistic activities led by POC-arts organizations across New York State. The initiative will also assist in the creation of programs that center POC-led arts entities. 

HueArts NYC has been made possible through support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, the New York City Council, the Ford Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

For more information and to access the HueArts NYC ‘Brown Paper,’ Map and Directory, visit hueartsnyc.org.  

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