BY FANNI FRANKL
CITYarts, a nonprofit arts and education organization, is continuing remotely with their new program: Paint Your Neighborhood/School From Your HeART At Home.
The project will include 200-300 students from the Summer Youth Employment Program, Stuyvesant High School, Hamilton Grange Middle School, The High School for Law & Public Service, Emma Lazarus High School, and others. Each group of students will work remotely on a project every week unique to their community with a professional artist.
CITYarts was formed in 1989 by Executive and Creative Director Tsipi Ben-Haim, who made it her mission to hear the voices of the youth through art. The organization is bent on bringing together children and youth with professional artists to create public art in New York City and even beyond. With over 330 projects that have transformed communities and reached over 200,000 kids, their impact is undeniable. Even with the coronavirus shutting down schools, CITYarts is determined to provide children in impoverished neighborhoods with engaging activities to keep their spirits up.
Ben-Haim described her vision of the nonprofit to give children the opportunity to transform their communities in a situation where they feel they may lack a voice.
“I believe once they do something like a mural in the school and in their communities, it serves as a constant reminder of their positive input, she said.” They show their pride. It’s like they see themselves as someone who made a difference. It elevates the spirit and is a reminder to stay on the positive track.”
CITYarts has helped children in areas across New York City to inspire the homeless youth and let them know that there are good people who can help their situation, shining a beacon of hope in an otherwise dismal time.
In similar ways, the organization hopes to achieve the same goal during the pandemic.
“Not every youth has a nice computer, air conditioning and good food,” Ben-Haim commented. They need all the help that we can give them to be engaged in a project and not go into depression. We are not giving up.”
They recently held a successful virtual gala on June 23 with 500 participants showcasing the art that students created remotely. Artists work virtually through a workshop, waiting for the moment when schools can open to be able to transfer their vision onto the school walls. The nonprofit additionally is under the process of creating murals in Brooklyn, The Bronx and Chinatown, where they were given permission to paint on-site, as long as there are only five people working at one time.
CITYarts is now a global arts organization, connecting youth in over 100 countries on 6 continents, in over 150 schools, creating more than 10,000 works through our Pieces for Peace Project.