The Newburgh Arts and Cultural Study (NACS), guided by a group of community-based advisors, is working on gathering data for a comprehensive inventory and assessment of the diverse arts and culture ecology in Newburgh for the first time in the City’s history.
They have held a number of community workshops and are conducting surveys to fully understand the city’s cultural assets and how they affect economic, social and cultural growth.
Behind the team are three entities: the resident-led Newburgh Arts and Cultural Commission, consulting firm Lord Cultural Resources and project managers Naomi Hersson-Ringskog and Naomi Miller.
The timeline for the 2020 study has been broken up into four phases.
Phase one was from April to June where team assembly began. Phase two, where they are now, is from June to October and focuses on community outreach with surveys, interviews, workshops and focus groups. Phase three, which they are beginning to think about, is from October to November and will be dedicated to developing and analyzing the collected data. From December to January 2021, the final phase will be conducted with a summit for community feedback and a full report with community recommendations.
NACS has conducted three workshops. The first focused on artists and creative businesses and the second on educators, youth and family.
The most recent focus group discussion was geared towards small businesses, nonprofits and governmental organizations and how arts and culture play a role in each.
Around 22 residents participated in the recent workshop held on Tuesday, September 15.
Project consultants Joy Bailey-Bryant and Eve Moros Ortega of Lord Cultural Resources led the meeting.
“The Newburgh Art and Cultural Study will be an invaluable tool for Newburgh to better understand its arts and cultural assets, in order to best ensure an optimal future for Newburgh’s creative community and the public at large,” said Bailey-Bryant.
The workshop discussed the benefits of art and culture, particularly in a post-COVID world. Data from Lord Cultural Resources shows that arts and culture impacts a variety of sectors like mental and physical health, social cohesion, environment and the economy.
“We’ve been working on this for a few months,” explained Bailey-Bryant. “In this time people are finally starting to understand that arts and culture is not a silo that sits over there … it’s interwoven with healthcare, education, life. It can effect and affect us powerfully.”
Newburgh has a relatively young median age at 29 years old, has a higher population percentage of hispanic/latinx people than that of New York City at 50.8 percent, 36 percent of the population holds at least a high school diploma and the media income is reported at $37,900.
“The young audiences are exploratory and in a time where they can be enthused, educated and involved,” said Bailey-Bryant. “The other side of the coin is that they have a lower income and haven’t had as much time working. For arts and culture we tend to take the point of view that younger audiences are of value.”
During the workshop, participants had the opportunity to each introduce themselves. The second part of the meeting allowed for a 30-minute open discussion between participants in two different breakout groups.
The groups considered three questions: what makes Newburgh a welcoming environment for arts and culture, what are barriers and challenges in Newburgh’s arts and cultural landscape and what are opportunity areas - in the arts and non-arts sectors - for strengthening the cultural landscape.
Ideas touched on ensuring that people from a wide variety of backgrounds and ethnicities become involved, working towards better access to the arts, focusing on the youth, bridging art to a career and reinvesting back into the community.
NACS is backed by a wide variety of stakeholders and leaders in the community, including Councilwoman Ramona Monteverde.
In a letter Monteverde wrote, “I believe the commission will help increase access and foster collaboration among the artists, our neighborhoods and individual citizens in the community.”
At this time, NACS is strongly encouraging residents to complete their 15-minute online survey, which closes on October 16. The survey asks questions like what do you love about Newburgh, what arts and cultural activities you’ve recently attended, why you attended said events and what activities you’d like to see more of in Newburgh.
The final workshop, for all Newburgh community members, is scheduled for Tuesday, October 6 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. For more information or to register, visit newburghculture.org.