A more vibrant NYCHA is on the horizon with a newly minted program that will highlight art, heritage and culture at five public housing developments. The selected artists will be paid $70,000 annually, with benefits.

Adi Talwar

The PSS King Towers Senior Center in Harlem, which reopened over the summer at 25 percent capacity.

In the effort first of its kind, the Public Housing Community Fund, a nonprofit organization that works with public housing tenants, is calling for artists to participate in a 20-month program that will brighten NYCHA campuses across the city.

“From Roots to Arts: Celebrating NYCHA’s Cultural Heritage,” funded by a $3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, is creating a residency program with space within five public housing developments. The effort is part of the Housing Authority’s “Connected Communities” initiative, which is dedicated to site planning, policy, and joint work with public-private partnerships.

Artists selected for the program will be assigned to beautify one of the five campuses: King Towers in Harlem, Bushwick Houses in Brooklyn, Astoria Houses in Queens, Richmond Terrace in Staten Island and the Bronx River Houses in the Soundview section of the Bronx.

Each development will be given $155,000 for their art project, according to the Public Housing Community Fund. Selected artists will be paid $70,000 annually with benefits—or $105,000 over the 20-month residency period—and additional support to help bring their ideas to life.

Beginning in July, the residency will include a four-month community engagement portion for the chosen artists to build connections with residents through office hours, workshops, and talks, followed by implementation of the project itself, which runs through 2026.

Close to 200 tenants have already weighed in on what they’d like to see from the program through a series of events held this spring. In Bushwick, for instance, residents in a survey said they’d like art programming outside their community center and in areas such as the building lobby, entrance and playgrounds, and to include art that represents different cultures and nationalities. At Manhattan’s King Towers, residents said they would like the works to include historical references to Harlem’s history.

The application for interested artists will be available until May 19. A virtual informational session will take place Tuesday at 6 p.m. for those who want to learn more. The application process is open to all artists who meet the eligibility criteria, but NYCHA residents are strongly encouraged to apply.

“This is a clarion call to all artists passionate about making a difference in our communities—your creativity has the power to inspire and uplift,” said Alex Zablocki, the executive director of the Public Housing Community Fund. “I encourage every interested artist to apply and join us in shaping a legacy of cultural enrichment that echoes throughout our public housing and beyond.”

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