An artful response to gentrification

An artful response to gentrification
ARTs East New York

They’re fighting gentrification with culture.

An East New York cultural organization is taking a stand to preserve its culture in their rapidly revitalized neighborhood with community and family-oriented programming. ARTs East New York (AENY) is hosting musical and engaging events for residents to commune and converse about relevant issues because the neighborhood can greatly benefit from these activities, said one of the organizers.

“We really think it’s important to give the community all the information they need to access and all the benefits that come with cultural planning,” said Vicki Capote, director of development and communications.

In a partnership with the New York Community Trust, the group proposed a town hall series to discuss a range of topics relevant to the neighborhood.

“With their help we’re able to have four series of topics that include education, how the cultural plan is going to impact the area, how change arts education in school, and this is all geared towards how to empower the parents,” she added.

The ongoing series, which has another meeting scheduled for Oct. 26, brings about two or three panelists discussing how the community can sustain a sense of cultural activities with all the introduction of new development. It is moderated by BRIC TV host Brian Vines.

“Our next one will be talking about social and economic impact, and it is directly one of our core initiatives in plan,” said Capote. “Basically we’re going to talk about how to use art and cultural activities, discuss the land use and growth, and how East New York can benefit,” said Capote.

Like most of the borough, the neighborhood is seeing a considerable number of new changes, said Capote.

“Over the last couple of months there have been many buildings going up. Everywhere there’s a lot of construction,” she said.

The organization also has a monthly jazz series held every third Sunday featuring jazz artists and culinary offerings. The introduction of it is one of the many examples of the work AENY is developing for their neighbors.

“What’s cool about the jazz brunch is that it actually came out of response from the community,” said Capote. “We have a Saturday music and arts program for the youth but we heard from our community that they wanted more programming and we are trying to navigate to make programs accessible to everyone.”

And it keeps that community very much involved as local influencers are brought in to share their skill sets in the kitchen.

“There are so many local chefs in the community and each brunch features a local chef in East New York to showcase a dish to the guests,” said Capote.

Both series will end in December and will conclude with a celebratory party.

She says the organization aims at prioritizing the needs of the community and will adapt to what people require from them, even if housing was not an issue.

“Our mission is responding and conducting programs that meet the needs of the community,” she said. “Gentrification and displacement are new areas of focus and we really need to integrate that. The program at heart, and everything we do, are aimed at community empowerment and getting members of the community to collaborate with each other.”

“Jazz Brunch” at ARTs East New York [534 Livonia Ave. between Williams and Alabama avenues in East New York, (718) 676-6006,]. Nov. 19 and Dec. 17, 2–4 pm. Doors open at 1:45 pm. $34.

“East New York Town Hall series” at ARTs East New York [534 Livonia Ave. between Williams and Alabama avenues in East New York, (718) 676-6006,]. Oct. 26, Nov. 30, and Dec. 9, 6:30–8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at