“The need for parks where everyone feels welcome is vital. The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the value of greenspaces, as people of all backgrounds flocked to local parks to safely exercise and socialize. And somewhere right now, there are young people whose creative juices are in search of a safe outlet.”
Retired HPD photographer Larry Racioppo spent months without electricity after Hurricane Sandy rebuilding his Rockaway Park home. His photos from that time, and of his neighborhood over the decade since, are the subject of an exhibit on display this month at the Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability and Equity (RISE) in Far Rockaway.
With pieces dating back to the early 20th century, the city’s public schools are home to almost 2,000 works encompassing realistic murals depicting the city’s history, giant pieces on exterior walls, playground installations that teach children about sound, fanciful fences and wall installations with nooks and crannies for students to explore. Faith Ringgold, Keith Haring, Romare Bearden and Carrie Mae Weems are among the many prominent artists represented.
“The arts are a form of embodied play that surpasses verbal processing and allows us to explore, connect with ourselves and others, and ultimately build or rebuild the muscles of imagination when life circumstances or the experience of trauma has taken them away.”
After two pandemic years that wrought havoc on all education but particularly on arts classes, advocates and educators have mounted a drive to win more—and more permanent—funding for visual art, music, dance and theater in the city’s public schools.
Brooklyn Councilmember Chi Ossé wants to commit 1 percent of New York City’s budget to the arts sector, which shed more than 208,000 jobs during the early months of the pandemic.
Councilmember Wants to Make ‘Open Culture’ Program, Which Stages Art Shows on NYC Streets, Permanent
The initiative, which kicked off in March, allows cultural organizations to apply for permits to host performances on certain city streets—an effort to help the performance arts sector, hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions, rebound.
New Yorkers for Parks is doubling the reach of its annual Sept. 11 Daffodil Project to also honor those who’ve died from the pandemic. “COVID is not a single moment like 9/11. It’s this continuous shared tragedy, but we’re not able to be together in the same way,” the group’s director said.
While the COVID-19 pandemic may have limited the intimacy of prison and reentry arts programs, many found ways to continue to teach, appreciate and showcase the work of incarcerated artists even during the crisis, by transitioning to virtual and solo lessons.
Unlike a museum, the experience is an 40-minute-long visual show. Projections of Van Gogh’s work are shot onto the walls, floor and reflective objects as songs from Edith Piaf, Imogen Heap and Thom Yorke play.
‘I believe if we want to preserve SoHo, we must rezone within reason. To address the disjointed policies and permits that currently cause headaches, but also to save the stunning landmarked buildings at the heart of this debate.’