Community Organizing 101

Community Organizing 101 Pilot Program

In 2019, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) launched Community Organizing 101: Engagement Tactics for Cultural Organizations, a pilot course that trains staff from cultural organizations around the city in strategies for sustained community building. Following an open call for applicants, representatives from 30 DCLA-funded organizations from all five boroughs participated in this free pilot course, and were provided an opportunity to establish new peer networks and learn how to integrate the tools of community organizing into their work in the cultural sector.

This program grew out of CreateNYC’s commitments to build the capacity of cultural organizations and to improve access to culture for historically marginalized groups. Throughout the cultural plan’s public engagement process, organizations asked for support in connecting with new audiences, neighbors, supporters, and advocates, as a way of deepening their relationships in their communities. The field of community organizing has a long history of tapping into grassroots networks and resources to bring about significant and positive change. This course demonstrated how tactics of community organizing often used by neighborhood groups or in social advocacy movements may also be applied by arts organizations.

The workshops were designed and developed by community organizing experts Community Change Inc., in partnership with DCLA. Community Change Inc., a NYC-certified Minority Business Enterprise, is a capacity-building consulting firm that supports schools, school districts, government agencies, not-for-profits, and institutions of higher education in strengthening their services and connections to youth, families and communities.

The following groups participated in the Community Organizing 101 pilot course.

  • apexart Curatorial Program
  • Art Start
  • Ascension Music Chorus Orchestra
  • Bronx River Art Center
  • Chocolate Factory Theater
  • Dance/NYC
  • Dances for a Variable Population
  • Dancewave
  • The Latin American Workshop
  • ETHEL’s Foundation for the Arts
  • Goddard Riverside Community Center
  • Historic Districts Council
  • Hook Arts Media
  • ID Studio Theater Performance and Research Center
  • Keen Theater Company
  • Kundiman
  • Los Pleneros de la 21
  • Maysles Documentary Center
  • Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden
  • The Noble Maritime Collection
  • On Site Opera Inc
  • Opus 118 Harlem School of Music
  • Staten Island Arts
  • Target Margin Theater
  • UnionDocs
  • viBe Theater Experience
  • Waterwell
  • Working Theater
  • The Writers Room
  • Wyckoff House Association


Community Organizing 101: Engagement Tactics for Cultural Organizations pilot program was structured as a 4 session course for 3 cohorts of 10 organizations. To encourage peer learning, cohorts were formed based on a variety of criteria including organization size, audiences served, geographic location, experience and availability.


This program was fully funded by DCLA. There was no cost to apply or participate.