Press Releases

Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, and Mayor’s Fund Present Community Grants to Support Local Cultural Organizations

"Made in NY" Community Grants were presented at the start of the Tribeca Family Festival.

El Puente, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Urban Arts Partnership Selected to Further Their Missions to Help New Yorkers in the Arts

April 25, 2015 - The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the Theatrical Teamsters Local 817, in partnership with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, are pleased to announce that El Puente, Socrates Sculpture Park, and Urban Arts Partnership have been selected to receive "Made in NY" community grants provided by the Theatrical Teamsters. As part of their commitment to New York City, the Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 has donated three $50,000 grants to the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment through the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City to support community enrichment in local neighborhoods in New York City. The grants aim to help community-based organizations with a media/film or arts program that serves high-need communities. The recipients of the grants were announced at the start of Tribeca Family Festival Street Fair.

"At the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, we’re committed to supporting our local communities, and we are grateful to Tommy O’Donnell and the Theatrical Teamsters for their generous donation," said Commissioner Cynthia López, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. "The three organizations selected to receive the community grants share a mission of helping young people develop their talents through media and the arts. This not only leads to opportunities for young New Yorkers but will further expand the pool of talented New Yorkers for the media and entertainment industry."

"Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 has always been about 'people helping people,' focused on education, family, and community," said Francis J. Connolly, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 817. "Today Local 817 is supporting New York City communities through these grants, which will help young New Yorkers discover their talents."

"The Mayor’s Fund is a longstanding catalyst for public-private partnerships aimed at supporting New Yorkers and New York’s diverse communities, and we’re proud to support this innovative partnership between Theatrical Teamsters Local 817 and MOME," said Darren Bloch, Executive Director, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. "This collaboration will help these groups build upon the richness of artistic opportunities for youth across the City, and we can’t wait to see the work that comes out of these worthy organizations as a result of this partnership."

"New York City is a mecca for arts and culture," said New York City Council Majority Leader and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Jimmy Van Bramer. "By supporting Socrates Sculpture Park, El Puente, and the Urban Arts Partnership the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment is enabling dynamic arts organizations to reach the next generation of our City’s filmmakers, actors, and stagehands. Through these grants our youth will get the firsthand experience they need to be a part of the industries that make our City one of the best in the world."

El Puente
el puente
El Puente will use the community grant to support its Williamsburg Leadership Center. Photo courtesy of El Puente.

El Puente, founded in 1982 by Luis Garden Acosta, is a human rights organization that fulfills its mission to inspire and nurture leadership for peace and justice by promoting holistic community/youth development through the engagement of youth and adults in the arts, education, public health, environmental advocacy, and social justice. The community grant will support El Puente’s Williamsburg Leadership Center (WLC), a holistic youth leadership development center that offers free summer, afterschool, and evening programming in the arts, leadership training, mentoring, and academic support.

"It is fitting that, in Spanish, El Puente means 'the bridge,'" said Frances Lucerna, Co-founder and Executive Director, El Puente. "We believe that this project will serve as a bridge, allowing El Puente to grow and nurture partnerships with the media and entertainment industries that have made their home in North Brooklyn, and most importantly, support us in providing equitable access for the young people we serve to the resources and the training to document their Brooklyn experiences as storytellers themselves."

"I would like to thank the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for supporting El Puente’s cultural programming at their Williamsburg center," said Council Member Antonio Reynoso. "El Puente’s work is invaluable for maintaining the cultural history of Williamsburg’s Southside, and their programming not only helps the community maintain its identity, it helps students learn about their heritage while developing skills they can use later in life."

"El Puente has been a beacon for Arts & Culture in Brooklyn for over three decades, inspiring and nurturing young people to pursue their passion as artists, and as leaders for peace and justice," said Danny Hoch, playwright and actor. "I’m thrilled to hear of this grant which will support El Puente’s undying commitment to provide young people of color quality pre-professional arts and media training free of charge."

The WLC enrolls over 200 youth (ages 13-21, grades 8-12) primarily from Williamsburg, Bushwick, East New York, and Bedford Stuyvesant. The grant will support the WLC’s multidisciplinary pre-professional arts training program, with a focus on expanding the youth media arts program. It will also help develop EPTV, a youth-driven film and video production program that will produce short films and documentaries focused on El Puente’s organizational initiatives, community campaigns, and arts/cultural programs.

Socrates Sculpture Park
The grant will also support the 17th Annual Outdoor Cinema Series. Photo courtesy of Socrates Sculpture Park.

Thirty years ago, Socrates Sculpture Park became New York City's first public space dedicated to providing artists with opportunities to envision, realize, and exhibit large-scale sculpture and multi-media installations. Today, the park’s unique waterfront environment is known for encouraging strong interaction between artists, their artworks, and a broad and diverse public – a relationship reinforced through open accessibility and a dynamic roster of free cultural programming. Socrates Sculpture Park will use the community grant in a variety of ways including supporting a dynamic and diverse roster of free community programming and socially engaging cultural events, ranging from art-making workshops that introduce art-making practices to at least 8,000 local Queens children and youth to a multi-disciplinary performance series. The grant will also support the 17th Annual Outdoor Cinema Series – a free festival of international film, music, dance, and food that serves over 7,000 people per year.

"As a visual arts organization that has increasingly used media and film to engage our surrounding Queens community, we are incredibly honored to have our efforts recognized by the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, the Theatrical Teamsters, and the Mayor’s Fund," said John Hatfield, Executive Director, Socrates Sculpture Park. "This award will have a tremendous impact on our free community programming that serves thousands annually, and especially our international Outdoor Cinema series – one of the longest running summer film programs in New York City."

"Outdoor Cinema at Socrates Sculpture Park is truly unlike any other summer film festival in New York City," said Stuart Match Suna, Board President, Socrates Sculpture Park & President, Silvercup Studios. "For the last 17 years, we have presented sophisticated international films on our waterfront and worked hard to engage the Queens community in every aspect along the way. Receiving this prestigious award today is recognition that Queens is home to incredible cultural diversity worthy of celebration and has become New York City’s borough of film."

Funding will also support a media partnership with the Long Island City-based public high school, Academy for Careers in Television and Film, through which it commissions at least five student-created videos annually to document the park’s programs and exhibitions. Through the partnership, students work alongside industry professionals and Socrates staff, receiving training and hands-on experience in all aspects of managing and working in a professional production company.

Urban Arts Partnership
Funding from the community grant will support UAP’s Academy and Alumni Scholars programs. Photo courtesy of Urban Arts Partnership.

Co-founded by Rosie Perez in 1991, Urban Arts Partnership’s mission is to advance the intellectual, social, and artistic development of underserved public school students through arts-integrated education programs to close the achievement gap. Approaching its 25th year, UAP employs 130 teaching artists to serve 15,000 students and 500 teachers in over 100 Title 1 public schools in New York City. Funding from the community grant will support UAP’s Academy and Alumni Scholars programs.

"Urban Arts Partnership is grateful to Commissioner Cynthia López at the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment and the Theatrical Teamsters for this incredible support," said Philip Courtney, CEO, Urban Arts Partnership. "Currently serving 15,000 youth, we use the arts to help NYC’s underserved students develop their voice, strengthen their connection to academics, and develop an enduring passion for learning. We aim to provide opportunities that these students would not have access to otherwise, and this support will allow our young people to create exceptional artwork inspired by their communities and to celebrate their accomplishments through digital badging. We believe arts education is the future of learning, and we are thrilled to be working toward this future together."

The Academy is a year-round, out-of-school time program that offers rigorous media arts instruction, academic advocacy, structured college readiness support, and leadership development for underserved public high school students. Academy students create artworks that address pressing issues of social justice, establishing themselves as youth leaders and advocates of positive social change. Students attend UAP’s state-of-the-art facility in Soho to develop pre-professional art skills in a self-selected major that allows them to have their voices heard in the context of their communities. These art forms include filmmaking, music production, photography + graphic design, theater, poetry, dance and coding + game design. Alumni Scholars are Academy alumni and college students serving as paid assistant Teaching Artists and peer mentors in UAP’s dropout prevention program, receiving college success, counseling, and career exploration support. Scholars benefit from counseling from UAP social workers and are exposed to real world jobs, establishing a strong community of youth as they transition to adulthood.


The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment serves as the one stop shop for the entertainment industry over the past five decades, promoting the City of New York as a thriving center of creativity, issuing permits for productions filming on public property, and facilitating production throughout the five boroughs. Today, the City hosts record levels of episodic television series as well as hundreds of films each year. Last year, more than 240 films shot in New York City, and so for the 2014-2015 season, 46 episodic series have been produced in the City. The City’s production industry employs 130,000 New Yorkers and contributes billions of dollars to the local economy.

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, chaired by First Lady Chirlane McCray, is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit organization that facilitates high-impact public-private partnerships throughout New York City’s five boroughs. The Fund leverages individual, philanthropic, and corporate partnerships to support public programs advancing key Mayoral and agency priorities. The Fund is focused on supporting public programs in areas including mental health, youth workforce development, immigration and citizenship, domestic violence, financial empowerment, and support for young men and women of color. To learn more about the Mayor’s Fund, visit our website at