After two years of outreach and community engagement, local Bronx artists are finally moving into the borough’s first Spaceworks art work space designed to provide subsidized studios at affordable prices to the creative community.
Located at 240 East 153rd Street in Melrose at the new Park Avenue Green affordable housing development by OMNI NY LLC, the space offers 15 artist studios, office, community project space, and an exhibition space spread across 4,597 square feet on the ground floor of the building.
Started in 2011 with its first studios opening in 2013 and 2014 in Long Island City and Gowanus, Brooklyn, Spaceworks has steadily been expanding across the city with a mission to provide desperately needed spaces for emerging artists.
As any artist knows first hand, it is virtually impossible for many to rent the necessary spaces for their disciplines due to ever increasing rents and gentrification.
One such organization is BxArts Factory which began in 2014 with a mission to make art accessible to all Bronxites.
Since their start five years ago, they have been searching for needed space in our borough but now, after a long journey, they are able to have a space to call their own thanks to Spaceworks.
“We are very excited to grow deep roots in the Melrose community,” said Yolanda L. Rodriguez, Co-Founder, and Executive Director of BxArts Factory to Welcome2TheBronx.
“We are also very grateful for all the partnerships we have developed during the past four years without a space. We are excited to start this new stage in our journey and continue nurturing the Bronx’s legacy” added Rodriguez.
For the past two years, Bronx resident Raul R. Rivera has worked as Spaceworks’ Community and Engagement Manager to better understand the need of our borough’s artist community.
In a press release, Rivera said, “It’s been an exciting two years. As a community organizer, my aim has been to engage and work with folks on every level of the development process, from the beginning onward—always centering community voices in decision making processes.”
Rivera added, “It’s rewarding to see relationships grow, from artists working hard to find space, to building space, to working with artists operating their own studios in their own communities.”
According to the press release other Bronx artists who are at the new Bronx Spaceworks in Melrose are:
“Milteri Tucker Concepcion’s non-profit drum and dance company Bombazo Dance Co, Inc., which preserves, showcases, and educates people about Afro Puerto Rican Bomba and Afro Caribbean and traditional folkloric elements; Seyi Adebanjo, a media artist who raises awareness around social issues through digital video, multimedia photography, and writings; Natasha Johnson, founder of Globalizing Gender, an organization working to create a more Gender Just world through education in order to prevent and reform gender based violence; interdisciplinary artist, playwright, and professor Nina Angela Mercer; filmmaker Ndlela Nkobi; artist and cultural worker Sage Rivera, who runs the independent visual arts and event production company Concepscion Productions, focusing on creating projects for the underserved and underrepresented; and two-time International Latino Book Award winning writer and elementary school educator Peggy Robles-Alvarado.”
Programming will begin at the new Spaceworks in March according to the organization.
As gentrification continues to take ahold of neighborhoods like Melrose, Mott Haven and the South Bronx, we need more organizations like Spaceworks that can help soften the blow of rising rents and will hopefully allow local artists to further cement their roots in our neighborhoods.
This project was made possible in part by a grant by the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.