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Seven New York City Arts Organizations Selected to Create Citywide NeON Arts Programming in Summer/Fall 2014

The New York City Department of Probation (DOP), in partnership with Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute, recently announced the names of seven New York City organizations selected for the second installment of NeON Arts, a new citywide arts education initiative created by the DOP. The first group of NeON Arts projects, which began last April, wrapped up with final events open to community members from June 13 through July 10. For more information on past NeON Arts events, please visit

NeON Arts offers young people in New York City, including those on probation, the chance to explore the arts through projects in a variety of disciplines, including dance, music, theater, visual arts, poetry, and digital media. Programming is available in seven communities that are served by the DOP’s Neighborhood Opportunity Networks (NeONs), which connect local residents to opportunities, resources, and services provided by businesses, community organizations, and government agencies in their neighborhoods.

The seven NeON neighborhoods are Bedford-Stuyvesant (Brooklyn), Brownsville (Brooklyn), East New York (Brooklyn), Harlem (Manhattan), South Jamaica (Queens), Staten Island, and the South Bronx.

As a leader in creating arts programming for justice settings and an ongoing partner of the DOP, Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute facilitates the grant-making process, coordinates citywide NeON Arts events, and works with arts organizations and NeON stakeholders to ensure that the planning and implementation of each project are a collaboration that benefits the entire community.

The seven organizations selected to create programming for the second round of the NeON Arts initiative, which runs through October 30, 2014, are:

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant: Xmental
  • Brownsville: Urban Bush Women
  • East New York: Xmental
  • Harlem: Project YEAH
  • South Bronx: Free Verse and Maysles Documentary Center
  • South Jamaica: Groundswell
  • Staten Island: Staten Island Arts

An integral part of the development of NeON Arts has been hands-on participation by local community members. The arts organizations participating in the second round of the initiative were selected by local NeON stakeholders comprising people on probation, DOP staff, key members of the community, and local businesses.

Summer/Fall 2014 programming will include:


Xmental introduces Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York NeON participants to the basics of graffiti art while also teaching the difference between legal and illegal graffiti. This summer, the organization hosts a public viewing and auction of art produced by participants that also includes performances by local hip-hop artists. Xmental is a coalition of community organizers, artists, and teachers committed to mentoring and educating urban youth through art and creative projects.

Urban Bush Women, a world-renowned Brooklyn-based dance company committed to dancing the powerful under-told stories of the African Diaspora, works with Brownsville NeON participants as part of its extensive engagement initiative BOLD (Builders, Organizers, and Leaders through Dance). BOLD leverages dance as a catalyst for social change and community engagement in addition to teaching concert dance technique and performance.


Project YEAH (Youth Empowered to Act for Humanity) engages Harlem NeON participants in a visual and literary arts program that nurtures community youth involvement. The program culminates with an arts exhibition open to community members.


Free Verse, the journal of poetry and prose born in the probation center waiting room in the South Bronx NeON, hosts a poetry program for community members alongside poetry workshops to create an informal learning environment in which poetry serves as the pathway to better prospects in life.

The Maysles Documentary Center (MDC) is a Harlem-based, non-profit film and arts organization dedicated to the production and exhibition of documentary films that inspire dialogue and action. Over the course of 12 weeks, MDC engages Harlem NeON participants to work in small teams to create short documentaries on issues important to them and their communities.


Groundswell brings together artists, youth, and community organizations to use art as a tool for social change for a more just and equitable world. Its projects beautify neighborhoods, engage youth in societal and personal transformation, and give expression to ideas and perspectives that are underrepresented in the public dialogue. Groundswell collaborates with participants from the South Jamaica NeON to design and create a mural that explores themes identified by the NeON stakeholder group.

Staten Island

Staten Island Arts’ mission is to cultivate a sustainable and diverse cultural community for the people of Staten Island by making the arts accessible to every member of the community. The organization collaborates with NeON participants on the project Engineer Your Sound, which teaches the fundamentals of storytelling through songwriting and training in computer recording software and equipment for the purpose of producing musical compositions accompanied by recorded vocals.

The third round of NeON Arts programming will be offered from November 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015. Arts organizations interested in participating are invited to submit a proposal by completing an application at The application deadline for the next project period is September 5, 2014.

Funding provided by the Open Society Foundations through a grant to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City in support of the NYC Young Men's Initiative.

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