How to do Social Practice

At BRIC last night, Elizabeth gathered a strong group of artists together to discuss their social practice work, and discuss best practices for an evolving field in which the commonalities have more to do with gaining trust and building relationships, long timelines, redistributing power, and  constant self-reflection than with a specific methodology or program for success. A compelling theme emerged — that of URGENCY. Both Tomie Arai and Rasheedah Phillips spoke about the urgency in their community, and how their work could not NOT address the realities of gentrification and displacement they saw all around them.

In relation to the Ingersoll Residency we are planning, a few important ideas came to light:

  • Self-Determination  as a leading principle
  • The need to show you care, beyond your specific project
  • Failure is built in to Social Engagement
  • Designing projects for the long-term, that can be sustainable without you
  • Involve people who are already there, doing the work related to the issue you are engaging.
  • Take risks with your honesty
  • Pay everyone – projects should model how resources can be distributed equitably.
  • Participation is an asset, and should be compensated.
  • Ask: What does an art project that is Community -led look like? Who is driving the project?
  • Ask: What are the NEEDS that are being met?
  • Assessment can take the approach of field research, and can happen along the way — not just at the end of the project. Open-ended qualitative analysis, rather then quantitative, proves most valuable.

For the artists on the panel, their work was motivated by a passion for a specific issue and community. Our work, on an institutional and administrative level, is driven by a passion for our neighborhood and specifically for the Ingersoll/Farragut/Whitman community, and for artists who are compelled by this co-creative, collaborative practice. We’ve been setting up the institutional infrastructure for the project, and now we need to transfer some of the power.


Culture in a Changing America @ the Armory

Interrogations of Form: Culture in a Changing America
In Collaboration with The Aspen Institute Arts Program
Sunday, February 19, 1:00pm–8:00pm

Artists, thinkers, activists, academics, and community leaders gather for a daylong series of conversations, performances, and open studios that explore the role of art, creativity, and imagination in addressing or challenging the social and political issues bound up in what it means to be a citizen in America today.

via Conversation Series : Program

Great program to refer to for future ideas and panelists at BRIC.


How a Museum in Queens Became a Neighborhood Ally

How a Museum in Queens Became a Neighborhood Ally 

For cultural institutions wondering how best to support immigrant communities in a hostile political climate, the outer-borough landmark provides some clues.

Cultural Agenda Fund Grants

Grants to Implement Collaborative Projects to Improve Arts Advocacy and Advance Cultural Equity

In December 2016, the Fund awarded $325,000 in grants to support projects stemming from its 2015 Cultural Advocacy and Equity Program. 

In September 2015, the Fund completed its Cultural Advocacy and Equity Program, which afforded 49 arts advocates the time and space to collectively generate ideas for improving advocacy coordination and fostering an equitable arts ecosystem. At the end of the Program, the Fund invited proposals for six-month planning grants of up to $15,000 each, to help groups further develop their ideas into actionable project plans. In December 2015, six coalitions received planning grants to develop programs to advance cultural equity and enhance citywide advocacy coordination. The Trust subsequently made implementation grants to the following projects:

  • With a $125,000 grant, BRIC will work with the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), Mark Morris Dance Group, and Theatre for a New Audience to pilot the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Management Fellowship, a salaried fellowship for emerging arts administrators from historically underrepresented groups. The coalition intends for this program to be a replicable, scalable model and will share a public report on the program’s pilot year.
  • A $75,000 grant will help El Puente work with Arts & Democracy, Center for Urban Pedagogy, Hester Street Collaborative, and NOCD-NY to use its Blueprint for Culturally Healthy Communities, a document that details eight guiding principles of a “culturally healthy community,” in community planning processes in Bushwick and Gowanus, two of the neighborhoods that the de Blasio administration has identified for re-zoning.
  • Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York will use $125,000 to work with its collaborators (such as Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, Community Voices Heard, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, and Staten Island Arts) to coordinate a citywide program to increase creative expression and artistic development in public housing communities. Activities will take place in public housing sites around the City, such as Betances, Bushwick, Ingersoll, Fulton, Chelsea-Elliot, Queensbridge, Red Hook, and Park Hill/Stapleton.

Radical Hope: With USDAC

2017 People’s State of the Union – Action Network

BRIC’s House Party event is listed on the USDAC site as an event for the People’s State of the Union. . . very nice to be involved in this way.

The Ghostlight Project

BRIC Commits to “BE A LIGHT” as part of the Ghostlight Projet

Last night, on the eve of Inauguration Day, BRIC joined with over 650 theaters across the country in launching The Ghostlight Project: a nation–wide commitment by theaters, theater artists and audiences to support and protect inclusivity, freedom of speech, and compassion. During this collective ritual, BRIC joined neighborhood theaters including Theater for a New Audience, BAM, Irondale, Actors Fund and others to create a “light” for dark times ahead, and pledged to protect core values of inclusion and equity for everyone, regardless of race, class, religion, country of origin, immigration status, (dis)ability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

Deputy Director Emily Harney and Director of Community Media Anthony Riddle spoke on BRIC’s behalf, and publically committed to these core values:

Continue reading

CE Update – BRIC Board Mtg 1/23/17

We are up and running with programs that serve to deepen BRIC’s relationship with our immediate BRIC House neighbors, with special attention to those most vulnerable to the political and economic realties of these times.
Here are a few programs we are particularly energized by:
GRIOT Circle/ Commons Choir:
GRIOT Circle is an advocacy and service organization committed to the dignity, well-being, and quality of life of senior LGBTQ people of color. BRIC first worked with GRIOT Circle through our Media Share program. Their community center is located down the block on Flatbush Ave — they offer daily meals, counseling, health and legal advocacy, and social and cultural programming — with an ethos of inclusivity, activism, and caring around issues faced by many of their members, including food, health, and housing insecurity. (Griot Circle: We don’t play bingo)
This partnership pairs seniors with members of the Commons Choir, one of BRIC’s long-term residency artists in our Performing Arts program. Founders Daria Fain and Robert Kocik are leading a monthly class at GRIOT Circle that is based in Qui Gong and their unique vocal techniques for wellness and self-expression. The artists piloted the workshop at GRIOT in December, and participants requested monthly classes. The seniors will also be coming to BRIC for gallery tours, and hopefully participate as a part of the actual Commons Choir  performance that will be premiering at BRIC in Fall 2017. 
This is a good example of how long-term residencies and other consistent programming at BRIC allow for partnerships to develop around specific, participatory opportunities, but lay the ground-work for larger, long-term organizational partnerships.
Ingersoll Community Center and University Settlements:
BRIC is also continuing its relationship with our neighborhood’s public housing residents, through a new program launched in partnership with Ingersoll Community Center and University Settlement. Together, we are embarking on a project to create a socially-engaged artist residency program at Ingersoll, that will culminate in a public project at Ingersoll Community Center in Summer 2018. What makes this project distinctive is that right from the beginning, and by design, residents are involved in the planning and execution of the project – everything from shaping the goals of the program, to selecting the artist/s, to producing and evaluating the program. Skill development, from media training, to marketing, to project management, may be integrated into the project with a core group of participants.
Because all three partners are long-term stakeholders in this community and neighborhood, we will be able continue engagement after the residency ends, aiming to create a sustainable program at Ingersoll Community Center, as well as developing a template for residency projects at other NYCHA developments throughout the borough and city, including Atlantic Terminal. We are designing the program based on the expertise of the partners, including the residents at Ingersoll Houses, but also based on participatory research and findings in the field at large – specifically around integrating arts partnerships in public housing developments.

This is the first project from BRIC’s Community Engagement Strategic Plan to explicitly enact one of the main “Core Principles”: working with communities to collaboratively plan, produce, experience, and evaluate meaningful programming. Through this partnership, we will be able to deepen and develop BRIC’s established relationship with the Ingersoll Community Center; create sustainable, multi-directional and mutually beneficial relationships amongst artists, institutions, and NYCHA residents; include a diversity of voices from the very start of a substantial project; and provide co-creative opportunities that will build trust, share power, and be truly co-owned by institutional and community partners.
The public realization of the project will take place within and around the Ingersoll Community Center, in collaboration with community members, however the process of creating the project (including possible workshops, rehearsals, meetings, ancillary public presentations) will take place at BRIC as well.
Black Artstory Month
The relationship with Ingersoll Community Center also involves inviting residents to BRIC House for specific programs, and similarly participating in activities at their Center. Coming up in February, we are screening a reel of BRIC TV videos as a part of Black Artstory Month, which is produced in partnership with our partner the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. This reel will feature 6 segments from BRIC TV, all of which highlight Black artists who find healing and power through their creative work. We will also be sharing information about BRIC’s Media Education programs, and opportunities to get involved with Community Media.
Stoop Share:
One of our goals of the Community Engagement Plan was to figure out a way to share the space and production resources of BRIC House with our neighbors, while honoring BRIC’s own needs for performance and rehearsal and rental space, production capacity, and program ownership. On a monthly basis, we are sharing our Stoop with a local non-profit, especially those who do not have a venue for public presentations or performances. As with almost all of our Stoop programs, these partner events are free and open to the public. We are requesting a $250 contribution towards expenses, but waive the $2500 rental fee and all other associated production costs. Our next program is on February 25, with viBe Theater Experience – an organization that pairs young women with theater professionals as mentors. They will be presenting a four-woman production about Crown Heights, on the eve of the riots in the 1991. Our goal is to host a wide variety of local organizations, responding directly to the recognized need for space and production values while building new relationships and audiences.

JANUARY 19TH — Ghostlight Project


WHAT:  Members of the theater community – from Broadway to regional theaters to high schools and colleges and community theaters – will gather outside of theaters and join in a simultaneous action to 1) create “light” for challenging times ahead, and 2) make a pledge to on-going change or advocacy.

 The ceremony will consist of a section that’s structured by The Ghostlight Project, designed for simultaneity and unity among all participating theaters, and a section that’s shaped  by  each theater according to its individualized intentions and needs.  The ceremony therefore will be both “set” and “customizable.” In particular, it will be up to each organization or individual to determine their own pledge for on-going action.

Again, the complete HOW TO KIT for the January 19th event will be available on our website shortly. 

WHEN:  JANUARY 19, 2017, 5:30 P.M. in your own time zone.  The ceremony will begin promptly at 5:30 p.m. to insure simultaneity with other theaters.  We expect it to last 10-20 minutes depending on your group’s choices for the event.

 WHERE:  Outside of theaters everywhere.  We are preparing a (growing) list of participating organizations so that people know where they can gather.

Educate + Agitate at PICA

FIRST 100 DAYS: UNITED IN RESISTANCE is a resource to support creative resistance to the Trump regime. We offer a platform for artists and non-artists alike to share skills and ideas for participating in street protests and creative interventions. We seek to strengthen our community by channeling our outrage into dynamic projects based on a deeper analysis of anti-colonial, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and feminist histories.

Our program begins January 14-15, 2017 with a weekend of workshops and art making at the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art in preparation for upcoming inauguration demonstrations.


A Common Project: A Common Share

A Common Project: A Common Share

is a program that allows communities to share artwork from within the local neighborhood for up to 3 months at a time. The idea being that artists have many artworks at any given time that can be shared with the community, and the community in turn has the wall-space to display and care for the artwork. The program is based on mutual trust and helps create connections between local community members who partake in the program as either sharering member, caregivers, or both.

The program, orginally called artCommons held it’s first season of shares in Jackson Heights Queens with the encouragement and support from the Queens Museum. The program also creates a collective effort for pooling of resources and sharing the wealth of

local creativity. Sharing events took place during community festivals, and art activities were offered for children by participating local artist. Over the span of just two events, 36 months of artwork shares were recorded!GO LOCAL
If you would like to set-up A Common Share in your neighborhood, please contact us:

Pilot support for the program in Jackson Heights, NY came from:

The Queens Museum
Citizens Committee for New York City

The pilot project would not have happened without the trust and support from all the local artists and community members in Jackson Heights. For this, we thanks everyone who was involved in the project.