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Artists and Young People
Revitalize New York City Neighborhoods
Through Beautify NYC,
an Initiative of City Clean Up Corps
and City Artist Corps

Beautify NYC Offers Paid Opportunities
To Learn, Create, and Connect,
Giving Back to Seven NYC Neighborhoods
Hardest Hit by COVID-19

Beautify NYC is a Special Initiative of NeON Arts, a
NYC Department of Probation and Carnegie Hall
Creative Arts Program for Youth

(December 17, 2021; NEW YORK, NY)—Across New York City, local artists and young people have made neighborhoods look and feel better through collaborative arts projects that revitalized community spaces—all while promoting the strength of community, creativity, and connection. Their work is a part of Beautify NYC, a special NeON Arts initiative which offers paid opportunities for artists and young people to work together to create 21 public art projects in the seven neighborhoods across New York City with an existing Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) Center. The project—supported by the City Cleanup Corps and the City Artist Corps initiatives—aims to leverage the power of art and culture to promote recovery in some of the most affected areas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City. 

From July to November, local arts organizations and artists ran weekly workshops for young people ages 16-24 across a variety of disciplines, reflecting the depth of New York City’s cultural community. Each artist received funding to run workshops and revitalize local community spaces, and young people were each paid $15 per hour for their work. Projects were centered in seven neighborhoods across New York City with an existing Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) Center: Staten Island, East New York, Jamaica, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Harlem, and the South Bronx. Each workshop culminated in a final event, where artists and young people celebrated their contribution and connected with the broader community. An additional number of Beautify NYC workshops will continue through June 2022, bringing arts programming to more young people and communities across New York City. Click here to watch a video recap of the Beautify NYC projects.

NeON Arts is a program of the Department of Probation in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI), that integrates free arts programming into seven Neighborhood Opportunity Networks (NeONs)—community centers across the city—supporting young people, ages 16–24, in exploring the arts, establishing positive peer relationships, and developing important social and career skills. NeON Arts was tapped to recruit local arts organizations and facilitate workshops for Beautify NYC.

“We have seen over and over again that providing young people with opportunities for artistic expression has a profound impact on how they see themselves and their place in the world,” said NYC Probation Commissioner Ana M. Bermúdez. “We know that young people who are invested in their communities are less likely to cause them harm, and that place-based initiatives like Beautify NYC can contribute to community safety. Connecting young people to Beautify NYC also provides them a unique opportunity to work in teams, learn skills and engage in true self-discovery, all while contributing to the well-being of their communities and our great city.”

“Carnegie Hall is thrilled to be a part of this massive effort through Beautify NYC to support and invest in local artists, arts organizations, young people, and communities across New York City,” said Sarah Johnson, Chief Education Officer and Director of Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. “We know the incredible power of the arts to provide opportunities for growth, connection, and healing. It’s meaningful for us to be able to employ artists and support young people across the five boroughs, helping to aid communities who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our cultural community is an integral part of what makes New York, New York and we’re proud of their work over the past five months.”

"With City Artist Corps, we wanted to invest in our artists and give them a mandate to connect with residents and restore the bonds that make New York such a vital place by bringing beauty and joy to all corners of our city" said NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals. "These BeautifyNYC projects show the amazing things that can happen when you empower artists and young people to collaborate, dream big, and enhance their communities through creativity and collaboration. I want to offer a huge thanks to our partners at City Cleanup Corps, Carnegie Hall and the Department of Probation for putting in the work to make this program happen. And an even bigger congratulations to the artists and young New Yorkers who brought us these remarkable works of public art."

"From painting vivid murals in Jamaica to designing recycled plastic tree guards in Stapleton, Beautify NYC participants have implemented impressive projects across the City,” said Lorraine Grillo, the City's Senior Advisor for Recovery. “Supported by the historic City Artist Corps and City Cleanup Corps economic recovery programs, Beautify NYC is a stunning example of the power of youth engagement and community-centered initiatives. Artist and youth participants have helped advance New York City's recovery and will contribute to an even brighter future for our communities."

“Since its launch this spring, the City Cleanup Corps has been working to make New York City a more beautiful place to live, work, and play,” said Chris Neale, Acting Director of the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development, who leads the economic recovery program. “With support from the Corps, Beautify NYC participants have helped accomplish that and much more by engaging in thoughtful projects—such as urban agriculture initiatives—and bringing art to public spaces across the boroughs.Along the way, they have helped revitalize our neighborhoods and forge stronger ties within our communities."

The artists and organizations that were awarded funding for Beautify NYC projects included: Art of Self Esteem (ASE); Educational Video Center (EVC); International Child Program (ICP); Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning (JCAL); MakerSpace NYC; Murals for Good; NYC Arts Cypher; NYC SALT; Starseed; Thrive Collective; and Universe City.


“Thank you so much again for this opportunity. Your grant to this #WeAreBetterTogether project is helping us amplify the talents of our teaching artists and young participants. In just eight weeks, we helped feed more than 5,000 families and distribute more than 7,500 hand sanitizers to Harlem, Queens, East New York, and the Lower East Side. Our Solidarity Ambassadors are bridging cultural and equity gaps every day to promote our mission of equity, inclusion and belonging. Through this process, they are not only beautifying NYC visually, they are also beautifying the heart and souls of our beloved city.”—May Siu, “Murals for Good” Founder


Beautify NYC's Reach By The Numbers

  • 21 public art projects
  • 223 youth participants employed
  • 7 neighborhoods across 5 boroughs of New York City
  • More than 50 local artists representing 11 arts organizations awarded funding
  • 3 cycles of projects
  • 5 months spent revitalizing communities


*Stats as of December 17, 2021*


“In the next thirty years I hope for the future of Brownsville to have more access to more resources and to have more community gardens where we can grow fresh produce. I wanted to join Universe City because I wanted to learn more about gardening and aquaponics, and I also wanted to be a part of the community.” —Cierraome, Universe City participant (pictured above)

Launched in 2013, NeON Arts provides funding to New York City artists and arts organizations, inviting them to produce programs in partnership with the NeONs, which connect residents to opportunities, resources, and services in their neighborhoods. The program celebrates youth, highlights creative talent, and develops the social and professional skills of participants, preparing them for careers inside and outside the arts. Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute manages the grant-making process for NeON Arts, coordinating events and working with arts organizations and stakeholders. An integral part of NeON Arts has been the direct involvement of local community members. Local NeON stakeholders groups, made up of people on probation, DOP staff, key community members, and local business owners select participating arts organizations.

The City Cleanup Corps (CCC) is a citywide economic recovery initiative that supports communities, businesses, and tourism by refreshing and revitalizing public spaces, while employing more than 10,000 New Yorkers. Through the collaboration of a dozen city agencies and community-based organizations, members of the CCC tend to the needs of neighborhoods by hand-sweeping public spaces, cleaning defaced properties, power-washing sidewalks, tending to green spaces, and creating community murals, among other efforts to help bolster New York City’s economy.


City Artist Corps was announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals in May 2021 as a way to support artists who live and work in NYC, while giving New Yorkers opportunities to experience cultural programming across the City. The $25 million program has supported artists through City Artist Corps Grants, administered in collaboration with New York Foundation for the Arts and other local partners to support 3,000 artists, as well as the Summer Rising program, through which more than 450 City Artist Corps members have worked with students at 225 NYC Department of Education schools to install murals and program performances. Dozens of Corps members have also created murals in collaboration with ArtBridge and NYCHA residents, engaged audiences across the city at The People’s Festival, and participated in Beautify NYC.


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About Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute

Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) creates visionary programs that embody Carnegie Hall’s commitment to music education, playing a central role in fulfilling the Hall’s mission of making great music accessible to as many people as possible. With unparalleled access to the world’s greatest artists, WMI’s programs are designed to inspire audiences of all ages, nurture tomorrow’s musical talent, and harness the power of music to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. An integral part of Carnegie Hall’s concert season, these programs facilitate creative expression, develop musical skills and capacities at all levels, and encourage participants to make lifelong personal connections to music. The Weill Music Institute generates new knowledge through original research and is committed to giving back to its community and the field, sharing an extensive range of online music education resources and program materials for free with teachers, orchestras, arts organizations, and music lovers worldwide. More than 800,000 people each year engage in WMI’s programs through national and international partnerships, in New York City schools and community settings, and at Carnegie Hall with many more taking part online. This includes more than half a million students and teachers worldwide who participate in WMI’s Link Up music education program for students in grades 3 through 5, made possible through Carnegie Hall partnerships with more than 115 orchestras in the US, as well as internationally in New Zealand, Canada, China, Japan, Kenya, and Spain.

For a full list of free WMI online resources for families, aspiring musicians, and educators, please visit: carnegiehall.org/Explore/Learn.

About The New York City Department of Probation (DOP)

The New York City Department of Probation (DOP) helps build stronger and safer communities, fostering positive change by working with and supervising people on probation. NeON Arts is a program of the New York City Department of Probation (DOP) in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute that integrates arts into the seven NeONs. The project empowers local stakeholder groups to choose arts projects for their own communities—projects that engage clients and neighbors in strengths-based activities supporting educational outcomes and connecting to employment opportunities. Participating in NeON Arts helps young people for the world of work by developing the 21st century job skills employers are looking for, including the ability to work creatively with others, visual literacy and critical thinking across disciplines. NeON Arts facilitates over 80 stakeholder meetings annually. Over 14,000 New York City residents, including those on probation have participated in 150+ projects citywide. The program has awarded more than 100 grants to artists.

Learn more: nyc.gov/probation


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Beautify NYC is made possible by the New York City Artist Corps and the City Cleanup Corps.

NeON Arts is a program of the NYC Department of Probation in partnership with Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute.

Lead support is provided through NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Innovative Criminal Justice Programs Initiative with sponsorship by Council Members Keith Powers, Vanessa Gibson, and Jimmy Van Bramer.

Major support is provided by The Kresge Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the City of New York through Council Members Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Vanessa Gibson, Robert Holden, and Deborah Rose, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the NYC Young Men's Initiative, and the NYC Department of Probation.


Photo at top of release by Fadi Kheir

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