Bronx Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Design and Construction, and Local Officials Break Ground on BCA@2700
Photo Credit: Tony Holmes
Bronx, NY – Today the Bronx Council on the Arts was joined by NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, NYC Councilman James Vacca, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and other local officials to celebrate the start of construction on BCA@2700. BCA@2700 will serve as BCA’s new headquarters building, transforming a former JPMorgan Chase bank branch into a new cultural hub in the Westchester Square district of the Bronx. The gut renovation will update all infrastructure and services and convert the basement, 1st floor, and mezzanine into programmable spaces, including a multi-purpose room, classrooms, meeting rooms, and administrative offices. The project is expected to be completed in late 2017.
“BCA is working to build a new, dynamic HQ that will serve our growing borough and beyond,” said Charles Rice-Gonzalez, BCA’s board chairman. Click HERE for the official press release.
BCA’s future headquarters, located at 2700 East Tremont Avenue, serves as the springboard for cultural revival in Westchester Square. With the move, BCA will establish a new center of activity for Bronx residents, artists, and cultural and community organizations.
By hosting events in the building (such as Big Read and spoken word artists like "Women In Creative Rebellion," pictured right), expanding programming and developing local partnerships, BCA is making its mark in the neighborhood. From holiday concerts to craft workshops to community arts nights, to professional development and workforce training, BCA is making its presence felt and invites the community and whole borough to join us.
Building our Artist Community
BCA's Bronx Writers Center’s free monthly workshops (left) helped establish a footprint for the Center in our future Westchester Square home, gathering both aspiring and accomplished writers for instruction in areas such as plot building, science fiction writing, and getting your work published. Participants get an opportunity to network with other writers and learn in a welcoming environment. The populatrity of these workshops extended our reach to the Morris Park Library, the Bronx Library Center and Poe Park Visitor Center, to name a few.
The Bronx Writers Center has also made Westchester Square and our building at 2700 East Tremont Avenue the center of its annual Big Read in the Bronx. Each year, the Big Read celebrates a work of literature by hosting events that include read-alouds, arts & crafts, writing workshops, movie screenings and more.
This year, a highlight was “Women in Creative Rebellion,” a spoken word event celebrating women who have reinvented themselves. Audience members shared their stories and their emotions over an open mic, in a room that was filled to capacity. Educator and writer Peggy Robles-Alvarado (center) was crucial in making the event a huge success. Photo courtesy of Jaime Emeric
Past Events: Earned-Income Planning Workshop Series
The first official program at BCA’s future headquarters was a professional development series for artists whichtaught artists and cultural organizations how to create earned-income/business plans based on assets they already had. Five seed grants of $2,500 were given for the best prepared plans, with support from the New York Community Trust and the National Endowment for the Arts. Winners also received access to consultants who helped improve the business plans further.
Highlights from the Workshops
Ron Kavanaugh sums up how workshops like BCA’s really help artists gain ground and plan long-term success. (Shown right)
“Oftentimes when you start a business, it’s literally in your head. You run it from home, you do all the math and calendar planning in your head. The great thing about business planning is it frees up all that space in your head.”
- Ron Kavanaugh
Steve Franciosa (CPA & Professor at Iona College) and Dart Westphal (Support Center) share tips on how to wisely manage your time and money. (Shown right)
“You have to be very careful that you don’t avail yourself of business cash for personal expenditures.”
“You have got to pull some time, especially in the beginning, to manage your own business that does not involve doing your thing.”
- Dart Westphal
Building our Local Community
Community Programming in Westchester Square
In coming to Westchester Square, another BCA goal is to support economic and cultural vitality by bringing people to the area. It is in this spirit that BCA has introduced Community Programming in Westchester Square -- consisting of free networking events, performances, workshops and more -- in an effort to connect the arts with local businesses and residents. Visitors meet our Westchester Square neighbors and have them experience some of the borough’s best artistic talent.
Pictured above: (l) A live jazz music, performed by Grammy-award winning bassist John Benitez and his jazz quartet; (c.) Spoken Word Artist Earl Majette performed during National Poetry Month; (r.) A Zumba class got the place jumping during National Health Month. Please check bronxarts.org for details on upcoming Community Programs in Westchester Square. All are welcome to stop by!
BCA Around the Neighborhood
BCA and the Huntington Free Library
On the third Saturday of the month, from October through April, BCA brings a free craft workshop to Huntington Free Library, bringing families together in a fun arts setting.
Parents and their kids create a range of items -- everything from crocheted flower pins to stuffed Halloween ghosts to recycle art (pictured right, with artist Star Nigro).
BCA and the Owen Dolen Recreation Center
The Owen Dolen Recreation Center, a cultural staple in the Westchester Square community, works with BCA to host programs for youth, families and senior citizens.
Fashion doll shows, cultural celebrations, and arts & crafts workshops are some of the events BCA has sponsored here. Pictured right: Skit by Children at Owen Dolen celebrating Three Kings Day.
7th Annual Fair @ The Square
An annual event that grows in popularity every year, Fair @ The Square is a fun-filled day of free family activities:
Kid’s fair with rides
Artisan craft sales
Raffles and Give-aways
BCA has been a co-sponsor of this annual event with the Westhcester Square BID since its inception in 2009.
Above: BCA staf mans our popular "Mother's Day with BCA" table on which neighborhood children create their own personalized Mother's Day cards for their moms.
Holiday Concerts at the Hutch Metro Center
BCA also helps sponsor free lunchtime concerts every December at the Hutch Metro Cafe.
The series aims to promote our borough's musical talent and also includes a bronx Artisans display of unique holiday gift items.
These and other Westchester Square events are made possible with funding by: NYC Council Members James Vacca, Fernando Cabrera, Andrew Cohen, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYS Assemblyman Michael Benedetto, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts, New York Community Trust, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, NYC Parks, Hutchinson Metro Center and the Westchester Square Business Improvement District.
Brings a Vision of Innovation & Growth
in its Move to the Neighborhood
@ The Square,
co-sponsored by BCA and the Westchester Square Businesses Improvement District,
of people into the Westchester Square section of the Bronx every year.
Some gather just to hang out and enjoy the day (l.) while younger
groups create their own art at the afternoon craft tables (r.).
Located at the intersection of
East Tremont and Westchester Avenues in the Central Bronx, the Westchester
Square neighborhood is active and coming alive. Since
the early 1990s, Westchester Square's merchants have suffered from
the absence of a major anchor retailer to draw consumers to the area.
The Bronx Council on the Arts plans to help fill this void by making
Square its new home.at 2700 East Tremont
Avenue in the near future. BCA has already begun to infuse arts
& cultural programming to foster economic revitalization and enhance
the vitality of the district
Square possesses numerous assets that facilitate artistic and cultural
growth. These resources make the Square attractive to those seeking
arts programs and services, bringing many new potential customers to
the area's business community.
few key features are:
transportation -- about eight different bus lines converge on
the Square, as well as the #6 subway line;
Huntington Free Library, a landmarked building with strong historical
Dolen Recreation Center and Park and surrounding area,;
demographics that include growing numbers of Latinos, Pakistanis,
Bangladeshis, etc. (i.e., an ethnic diversity that BCA cultural
programs can draw to the Square's business district).
Free outdoor concerts at the Owen Dolen Recreation
Center (l.) continue to bring fresh young crowds to the area while
free indoor craft activities at the Huntington Free Library (r.)
are enjoyed by neighborhood groups of all ages.
NYC Council Member James Vacca (l.) is surrounded by young supporters
as he joins us at a recent Westchester Square event while an outside
craft table (r.) enthralls the young ones and their families.
Westchester Square, BCA will replicate the success it's had in bringing
audiences and visitors to the South
Bronx Cultural Corridor (thanks in large part to the Bronx
Culture Trolley). This success has been predicated on the integration
of arts and culture with sound business development practices. Likewise,
BCA will aim to actively help build a Westchester Square where local
artists and cultural programs not only spur economic development, but
also raise the area's profile as a great place to live and do business.
group works toward the stabilization, commercial revitalization and
economic growth of the commercial corridor, and the surrounding community,
of Westchester Square . These efforts will be fortified by the Westchester
Square Business Improvement District, which will be implemented upon
As a public-private partnership, we are advocates, marketers, and
problem solvers for the property owners and merchants. We provide a
critical linkage between New York City government and the neighborhood.
We work closely with the NYC Department of Small Business Services, as
well as other city officials and agencies, as we make every effort to
improve the quality of life in Westchester Square.
42-acre development site features more than 30 business tenants and
thousands of employees; the center has been home to free, seasonal lunchtime
concerts in past summers, something that BCA will continue.