News and Press Releases

For Immediate Release: January 7, 2020
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NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Announces Awards to 36 Nonprofits through CreateNYC Language Access Fund

Building on the CreateNYC cultural plan, newly-launched competitive grant program supports arts and culture activities for audiences whose primary language is not English

NEW YORK – The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) has announced this year’s recipients of grants through the CreateNYC Language Access Fund. 36 NYC-based nonprofits will receive grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 in support of programming that increases access to arts and culture for those whose primary language is not English. The awarded programs represent 12 languages – including Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Russian, and American Sign Language – and will serve audiences in all five boroughs.

“Half of all New Yorkers speak a language other than English at home, and we want to make sure these residents have every opportunity to participate in our city’s extraordinary cultural life,” said Acting Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kathleen Hughes. “Congratulations to the 36 grantees of the inaugural CreateNYC Language Access Fund, whose projects demonstrate a real commitment to ensuring that language is not a barrier to participation in NYC’s remarkable cultural offerings.”

Building on recommendations in the CreateNYC cultural plan, the inaugural Language Access Fund is distributing $725,000 for projects that include the creation and presentation of new works for non-English-speaking audiences, bilingual cultural programming intended primarily for non-English speakers, and multilingual community engagement in the arts. The initiative aims to remove barriers to participation in arts and culture for the millions of New Yorkers who are non-English speakers, multilingual learners (MLLs), English language learners (ELLs), and sign language users.

CreateNYC Language Access Fund Grantees for Fiscal Year 2020:

Select images from grantees are available here.

  • A.R.T./New York will create the Advanced Theatrical ASL Interpreters program to ready qualified signers for a career in theater-specific interpretation, providing a robust roster of interpreters to meet the high demand of NYC’s non-profit theater companies while also deepening the relationship with Deaf audiences and artists industry-wide.
  • America SCORES New York will expand their Poemas para Empoderarnos program for Latinx youth in Harlem. They will offer six-week Spanish-only poetry workshops, culminating in a live performance of the students’ original poetry this spring.
  • Art Start will pilot a bilingual art and literacy program as part of their Creative Collectives initiative, which serves youth and families experiencing homelessness. The new project will launch bilingual workshops with ELL youth and families at partnering transitional housing residences in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
  • Arts Connection’s project Remember, Reimagine, Remake will provide a media arts program to high school students who have recently arrived in the U.S. Students will learn skills needed to create original media arts projects exploring themes of human rights violations.
  • Behind the Book will expand culturally responsive, in-school literacy programs featuring a series of multidisciplinary workshops aimed at sparking passion for reading, writing, and art for ELL students at schools in Manhattan and the Bronx.
  • Boundless Theatre Company is supporting two projects: El Barrio Raíces, a bilingual children’s arts education program; and Mainstage en Español, a professional production of a play in Spanish. These programs increase access for Spanish-speaking members of the community to both professional theater and theater education.
  • Centro Cultural Cubano will offer a series of programs engaging Spanish-speaking audiences with a wide range of literary genres through Spanish translation of English works by Cuban authors; workshops on new or groundbreaking writers; conversations with Cuban writers representing key literary movements; and staging of works by Cuban playwrights.
  • Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center will expand its Chamber Music Beginnings program to two new elementary schools with high percentages of Spanish-speaking students, ELLs, and MLLs. A bilingual teaching artist will introduce participants to chamber music concepts, concert experiences, and musicians.
  • City Parks Foundation will take its PuppetMobile to several neighborhoods where Spanish is the primary language spoken by residents. Onsite they will present a Spanish-language adaptation of the beloved marionette production “Little Red's Hood.”
  • Concrete Temple Theatre will partner with Seoul-based Playfactory Manbangzen to present “The Waitress & the Robber,” a play crafted in Korean and English addressing themes of language, aging, and technology. The play, staged by a cast and creative team comprised of both English and Korean speakers, premieres in April 2020.
  • Dance Parade’s Dance without Borders project will offer four residencies in Spanish and Chinese, enabling 120 students to learn Bomba y Plena, Traditional Chinese Ballroom, or Chinese Hip-Hop. The 12-week courses culminate with participation in the 14th Annual Dance Parade on May 16, 2020.
  • Dance Project of Washington Heights will support Bailando Sin Barreras (Dancing without Barriers), offering eight bilingual (Spanish/English) Latin Social Dance classes to both children and adults. Outreach and resource materials will be produced in both English and Spanish, and a bilingual Parent Advisory Committee will meet regularly.
  • The Drawing Center’s successful DrawNow! program encourages participants to make their own drawings in response to current exhibitions in the gallery. Having already begun to offer the program in Spanish, the Center will now pilot two new versions of the workshop for Mandarin speakers and members of the Deaf community.
  • En Garde Arts will produce the world premiere of “Fandango for Butterflies (and Coyotes),” a theatrical work inspired by interviews with undocumented immigrants from Latin America living in New York. The production will travel to all five boroughs in February and March of 2020.
  • Flamenco Vivo will facilitate Project Olé, a 15-session flamenco dance and music residency for each of three classrooms of Spanish-speaking ELLs at a middle school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and a high school in Long Island City, Queens.
  • The Fort Greene Park Conservancy will organize its first-ever Taishanese Film Festival. The project will include the formation of a team of resident curatorial advisorsdrawn from local Taishanese-speaking residents, facilitation of 3 workshops, and presentation of 3 films with related programming.
  • IlluminArt Productions will engage Staten Island Spanish and Russian speakers through its ACTive Adults for Literacy program, a 21-week theater and play-writing curriculum incorporating bilingual instruction and culminating in a final performance for friends, family, and the community.
  • Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will host a yearlong fellowship experience for three high school students, who will facilitate programs for Spanish-speaking audiences and translate program materials into Spanish while receiving mentorship and guidance from museum staff.
  • IRT Theater’s project has two parts: Westside Experiment is an annual two-week summer program for middle- and high-school Deaf and hearing students, who will work with a professional theater company. Also, IRT will produce Daniel Irizarry’s piece, “YOVO,” performed simultaneously in Spanish and American Sign Language.
  • Japan Society will present four programs to be performed in Japanese with English supertitles in its 2019-2020 performing arts season. The productions are: “Kwaidan – Call of Salvation Heard from the Depths of Fear;” “Taiten: Noh & Kyogen;” “The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood;” and “Control Officers” with its new companion piece.
  • Jazz at Lincoln Center will offer a bilingual version of its early childhood jazz education program, WeBop. The project will serve children and parents from immigrant Latino families whose primary language is Spanish and who live in the Inwood neighborhood of northern Manhattan.
  • Kinding Sindaw Heritage Foundation will perform “Pananadem (Remembering),” a production memorializing the traumas of indigenous people of the Southern Philippines and preserving their languages – Meranao, Maguindanao, and T’boli.
  • Korean Art Forum will hold a two-day art event that presents workshops, interactive art, artist talks, performances, and installation art in a public park and at a community center in Flushing, Queens. The contemporary art experience will seek to engage Asian immigrants who are ELLs, including Korean and Chinese Americans.
  • Lewis Latimer House Museum will expand its multilingual program to offer interpretation in the three most spoken non-English languages in Flushing – Chinese, Korean, and Spanish. The museum will produce materials and guides in these three languages, and launch an accompanying multilingual audience-building campaign.
  • Mount Vernon Hotel Museum & Garden will offer free monthly Spanish-language tours highlighting Latin American and Caribbean influences on New York City in the 19th century, led by bilingual history students from CUNY. The museum will also provide training so that staff are better able to welcome Spanish-speaking visitors at all times.
  • Movement Research will offer a bilingual version of its Dance Makers in the School program, providing 30 sessions of in-school dance classes to three second grade classes in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The program, which will introduce Spanish-speaking students to the vocabulary of movement, will culminate in a performance.
  • Museum of Chinese in America will launch a pilot program offering Mandarin-language guided tours to people with dementia and their care partners. This project aims to enhance quality of life through a shared arts engagement experience specific to the cultural, cognitive, and linguistic needs of this audience.
  • New York City Children’s Theater will offer a bilingual school residency program for ELLs built around the play “Zoongoro: A Mexican Musical Tale.” This production and accompanying theater and music workshops will help break down language barriers and reinforce students’ language skills.
  • Poets & Writers will offer creative writing workshops in Spanish, open to Spanish-speakers with varying levels of English proficiency, at community centers in Manhattan and on Staten Island. Each seven-session workshop will culminate with a public reading and generate an anthology of participant writing translated in both English and Spanish.
  • Repertorio Español will curate a series of staged readings of several works by Hispanic-American playwrights who typically write in English but whose themes address the Latinx experience. The plays will be translated into Spanish for the series, and each reading will be followed by a discussion session.
  • Signature Theatre Company will pilot an American Sign Language program in partnership with service organization Hands On. The interpretation of a performance of Anna Deavere Smith's work “Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992” will allow Signature to explore the creation of a larger sign language interpretation program.
  • Theatre Development Fund, as part of its TDF Accessibility Program for Students, will offer six American Sign Language interpreted Broadway matinee performances for young people whose primary means of communication is signing. The project also includes in-class workshops by trained teaching artists.
  • Urban Word NYC‘s Global Journal / Global Journey is a writing and performance workshop series for teens, which will culminate in a fully-formed original staged ensemble piece performed in their various first languages.
  • Words Without Borders will provide literary programming for Chinese speakers in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Participants in a series of workshops with Chinese-American author and translator Wenguang Huang will explore their cultures through storytelling and translation, and share their own stories at a community-wide event.
  • Working Theatre Company will provide translation services for several events as part of its Five Boroughs/One City initiative, including four community engagement events and four performances of the touring production of Dan Hoyle’s “Border People.” Printed materials for community partner venues will also be translated into several languages.
  • Young People's Chorus of NYC will continue their performance-based afterschool choral music education program designed to reach the Spanish-speaking population of Washington Heights, in which students study and perform music from many traditions to foster cross-cultural understanding.

Awarded projects will be completed by June 30, 2020. Fiscal Year 2020 awardees may be eligible for a renewed grant in Fiscal Year 2021.

“In New York City, a city where over 200 languages are spoken, we believe our diversity makes us stronger, unites us, and deserves to be celebrated. We strive every day to build a city that is inclusive to all, regardless of the language you speak,” said Bitta Mostofi, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “From supporting more bilingual productions to sign language interpretation programs, the CreateNYC Language Access Fund continues to expand language access in arts and cultural programming, and we are thrilled that this year’s grantees represent the linguistic diversity of our city and communities from all five boroughs. I commend the Department of Cultural Affairs for their advocacy and congratulate all of this year’s grantees!” 

“We must foster diversity and inclusion in the cultural sector. The 36 grantees of the CreateNYC Language Access Fund represent our dedication to supporting and strengthening New York City's vibrant cultural life. All are welcome here,” said Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations. “We must support all people in the City of New York and ensure artists know that we want them to contribute to the culture of New York in the language they are most comfortable communicating in.”

“CreateNYC prioritizes striving for equity in support for arts and culture, nurturing artists from underrepresented groups, and investing in NYC’s thriving and diverse neighborhoods,” said Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Chair, CreateNYC Citizens’ Advisory Committee. “The work of the 36 grantees of this year’s CreateNYC Language Access Fund supports all of these priorities. Their efforts to remove the barrier of language will help build strong and enduring creative connections among all New Yorkers.”

With the release of CreateNYC in 2017, the Department of Cultural Affairs and Mayor de Blasio committed to supporting increased language access for communications and cultural programming to reach more diverse audiences. Since 2017, DCLA has provided over $450,000 in added funding to non-profit organizations offering programming in languages other than English. The CreateNYC Language Access Fund – now a standalone, competitive grant program – increases this funding and seeks to foster greater connections among New Yorkers through arts and culture, regardless of the languages they use.

About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit