Building Community Capacity

DCLA'S community arts development program, Building Community Capacity (BCC), strives to reinforce arts and culture's transformative role in building and maintaining meaningful, healthy, and equitable neighborhoods. In response to and to complement NYC's urban planning processes DCLA created BCC to ensure both that culture is included as part of the City's interagency efforts around neighborhood planning, and that local cultural stakeholders have agency and voice in their community's development efforts.

Taking a collaborative, community-centric focus, the two-phase, multi-year program brings together diverse local cultural stakeholders to explore local context, create a community shared vision for arts and culture, and chart a course for collective action.

During the program's current iteration, community members from Bushwick, BrooklynFar Rockaway, Queens; and Morrisania, Bronx work together to address challenging and important issues that face or intersect with local arts and culture. By customizing the program's collaborative framework and tools, community members will be able to identify and align local critical issues with the strategies, resources, and potential solutions for how they want their community to be.

Phase II Launch

Application for Phase II of the BCC program is now open to interested community-based development organizations working with cultural stakeholders in Bushwick, Far Rockaway, and Morrisania.

Application: two-step process

  1. Community-Based Development Organization (CBDO) Certification

Deadline: 11:59pm on Thursday, November 7, 2019

Organizations must be a CBDO to apply. Certifications are reviewed on a rolling basis.

  1. Application Deadline: 11:59pm on Thursday, November 7, 2019


Application Seminars

Community-based development organizations that are interested in applying for BCC Phase II are required to attend an Application Seminar. The seminar provides an opportunity to speak directly with DCLA staff prior to submitting a competitive Application.

Thursday, October 10 – 3:00-4:30pm
Location: DCLA, 31 Chambers Street, Room 201

Wednesday, October 16 – 10:00-11:30am
Location: DCLA, 31 Chambers Street, Room 209

Friday, October 25 – 10:00-11:30am
Location: DCLA, 31 Chambers Street, Room 209

Wednesday, October 30 – 3:00-4:30am
Location: DCLA, 31 Chambers Street, Room 209

To rsvp: email

Anticipated grant award

$240,000 per neighborhood for 24 months

Phase I: Research and Discovery (Completed – Summer 2019)

Working in three designated neighborhoods, first phase grantees engaged in community-based research and investigated the challenges and opportunities inherent to their local arts and cultural ecosystems. They documented cultural assets, considered relevant local history, and explored who is present, including key demographics as well as participant feedback regarding cultural interests, behaviors, motivations and challenges. Comprehensive findings, released as three community-specific Neighborhood Arts and Culture Inventories, provide insights, depict local context, and reveal not only the interconnections between community and art, past and present, but also suggest why culture is vital to a neighborhood's future.

Phase II: Building Infrastructure (Dec 2019 – Nov 2021)

During Phase II selected grantees and community members will build a replicable process for how cultural stakeholders can work together to develop a shared vision, viable strategies, and local resources to bring about enduring community-level transformation.

Grantees will

  • lead multiple community engagement and participatory decision-making activities to capture insights about issues that are of local importance and urgency
  • focus on challenges and opportunities informed by Phase I community-based research, other City-led community development efforts, and local input
  • build a steering committee of key and invested cultural stakeholders who create a community shared vision and transform it into a viable plan of action, with goals, strategies, activities, and accountability measurements
  • create prototype projects that can test and improve upon ideas and strategies
  • receive ongoing technical assistance
  • participate in peer learning exchanges with grantees from the other participating neighborhoods
  • build connections with other City agencies and community partners working with the creative sector
  • engage in relevant trainings designed to ensure they are equipped with skills, connections, and methodologies that will enable them to tackle various issues both during and after the program's intervention
  • develop a sustainability plan that includes cross-sector partners and resources

Additionally, participating organizations receive a grant to support the personnel needed to lead the work of community organizing and planning around arts and culture - accomplished by progressing through a series of coordinated activities and goals.

BCC does not offer pre-set solutions, but helps community stakeholders address complex issues and outdated patterns by looking at what change is desired and needed, how it happens, and who should be involved. The aim is to look beyond the short-term and find transformative approaches that are effective and sustainable.

BCC is partially funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through their Community Development Block Grant program.