BCA’s future headquarters, located at 2700 E. Tremont Avenue, serves as the springboard for cultural revival in Westchester Square. "When the light goes on for a public event, it won't be on just here but in the entire neighborhood," said Maria Romano, Director of BCA's Bronx Writers Center. "We will be part of the revitalization of this community." With the move, BCA will be establishing a new center of activity for Bronx residents, artists, and cultural and community organizations.
By hosting events in the new building (such as Big Read events like "Women In Creative Rebellion" on April 19, pictured right), expanding programming and developing local partnerships, BCA is already starting to make its mark in the neighborhood. From holiday concerts to craft workshops to community arts nights, BCA is making its presence felt and invites the community and the whole borough to join them.
Building our Artist Community
Since announcing the future headquarters on April 4, 2011, BCA has been fulfilling its pledge to expand support and services to artists, businesses and families. The new building itself has increasingly become a focal point of these efforts.
Most recently, our Bronx Writers Center’s free monthly workshops (pictured above) have made the new building their home. Both aspiring and accomplished writers gather 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 from each other’s work in a welcoming environment.
The Bronx Writers Center has also made the building a new center of its annual Big Read activities. Each year, the Big Read celebrates a superb work of literature by hosting events that include read-alouds, arts & crafts, writing workshops, movie screenings and more.
This year, a main highlight was “Women in Creative Rebellion.” A spoken word event celebrating and uniting 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. Inspirational educator and writer Peggy Robles-Alvarado (pictured top-left) was particularly crucial in making the event a huge success.
(r.) photo courtesy of Jaime Emeric
Past Events: Earned-Income Planning Workshop Series
The series taught artists and cultural organizations the art of networking and how to create earned-income/business plans based on assets they already had. Five seed grants of $2,500 were given for the most accomplished and 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 reworked and helped improve the business plans even 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.”
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.” -Steve Franciosa
“You have got to pull some time, especially in the beginning, to manage your own business that does not involve doing your thing.”
Building our Local Community
Community Arts Tuesday
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 Arts Tuesday. A free monthly networking event at our new building, it is an effort to connect the arts with local businesses and residents. Visitors meet our Westchester Square neighbors and friends, talk to BCA staff, rub elbows with members of the newly formed Westchester Square BID, and are exposed to some of the borough’s best artistic talent.
Each Community Arts Tuesday is centered around a different arts theme. Our inaugural event in January (pictured above) featured live jazz music, performed by Grammy-award winning bassist John Benitez and his jazz quartet. Our latest event provided an open mic for local poets and spoken word artists to share their work. Please check bronxarts.org for details on upcoming Community Arts Tuesdays. All are welcome to stop by!
BCA Around the Neighborhood
BCA and the Huntington Free Library
Once a 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, in an April workshop 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.
5th Annual Fair at the Square
An event that keeps on growing with each year, this year's Annual Fair at the Square is set to take place on May 11. The Fair is a chance for local businesses to promote themselves and for families to enjoy free fun and entertainment, including:
Kids Games & Activities Area
A Variety of Foods and Vendors
An All Day Concert Series
Contests, Raffles and Give-Aways
BCA has been a proud co-sponsor of this event since 2009.
Holiday Concerts at the Hutch Metro Center
BCA also helps sponsor free lunchtime concerts every December at the Hutch Metro Cafe. This past year, soprano singer Melissa Primavera and the Robert Silverman Jazz and Blues Quartet were featured performers. The series aims to promote our borough's musical talent and also includes a bronxArtworks Artisans display of unique holiday gift items.
These and other Westchester Square events are made possible with funding by: the Association of Merchants and Business Professionals of Westchester Square, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the City of New York Parks and Recreation, Hudson Valley Bank, Hutchinson Metro Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, NYC Council Member James Vacca,
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, NYC Department of Small Business Services/Avenue NYC, the New York Community Trust, the New York State Council on the Arts, Robert A. Bowne Foundation, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, Scherman Foundation, Simon Bolivar Foundation, 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 Merchants and Businesses,
of people into the Westchester Square section of the Bronx every May.
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. BCA began renovations at 2700 East Tremont
Avenue in 2012. BCA has also 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
as well as the #6 subway line;
Huntington Free Library, a landmarked building with strong historical
Dolen Recreation Center and Park and surrounding area, which are
undergoing a $2 million renovation;
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).
Westchester Square BID proposal was approved unanimously by the
City Planning Commission and now goes to the City Council for
their review and process and final public hearing.
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.
BCA will not be alone in these efforts. The Bronx
Business Alliance will assist with fundraising and small
business development. The following partners will also support BCA's
mission by reaching out to the community and/or cultivating new programs:
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
non-profit founded in 1990 by a group of Westchester Square parents
with young children. Over the years -- via advocacy, an arts and crafts
program, and special events -- they have taken on the role of community
activists, addressing major issues that affect the lives of local children
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.
public high school with more than 4,000 students, Lehman H.S. is located
right outside Westchester Square . The student body serves as a potential
market for Square merchants and arts programs.
and its partners have devised a number of specific strategies meant
to restore Westchester Square 's reputation as a Bronx hot spot. These
A Culture, Commerce and
Community Advisory Group to assist with planning, provide oversight
and manage local special events. Consisting of resident artists
who will work with the Bronx Business Alliance and the Association
of Merchants and Business Professionals, the committee will advise
BCA and give voice to local artists and residents;
A marketing campaign for arts-related
businesses, arts non-profits and artists to relocate to/near Westchester
Square. The campaign will entail special promotional material, access
to transportation, low commercial rents, and supportive infrastructure.
(to be determined);
expansion of programming for writers, families and children at
Professional development series geared
toward local creative entrepreneurs in
Collaboration with Owen Dolen Recreation
Center to provide community events for holidays such as Kwanzaa
and Three Kings' Day;
Scheduling concerts and live performances
of various genres, in locations around the Square;
co-sponsorship of seasonal lunchtime concerts at Metro Cafe in
Hutch Metro Center. The continuation
of "Fair @ the Square," a recently minted festival featuring
the work of community artists and bringing attention to the area's
Plans for a bronxArtworks Boutique
at the new building, featuring cultural works by immigrant artisans
in the Bronx;
Updates to the Bronx Cultural Card,
providing additional discounts to card bearers;
is confident that it can build upon its strong track record of promoting
artist development and public participation in the arts. In Westchester
Square, the seeds for an economic and cultural boom have already been
sown. BCA now places the burden on itself to make the Square a prime
destination once again; a bustling center of business, cultural activity,
and overall prosperity is the vision that BCA expects to fulfill.
(this map is
currently being updated)
Bank for Savings
& Business Professionals
of Westchester Square