Program: Access to Arts
Area of Work: Arts
Grant Purpose: Bronx Music Heritage Center
WHEDco is a Bronx-based affordable housing developer and community development organization founded in 1992 on the radically simple idea that all people deserve healthy, vibrant communities. For more than a quarter century, WHEDco has been a leader in fostering thriving South Bronx neighborhoods, creating lasting economic opportunity, and innovating programs that have become models across New York City and beyond. From beautiful environmentally friendly affordable housing, to education programs that serve children birth to college, to small business development initiatives that empower low-income New Yorkers to create their own economic opportunities , WHEDco’s programs ensure that people who live, work, and attend school in the South Bronx have access to the things we all need to succeed. WHEDco champions the idea that arts and culture are essential to a community’s well-being and emphasizes the arts through all of its programs and through the Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC).
Purpose: To support free and low-cost community arts and cultural programs at WHEDco’s Bronx Music Heritage Center (BMHC)
WHEDco founded the BMHC in 2010 to foster community development and pride of place through arts programming that celebrates the Bronx’s rich cultural traditions, such as jazz, hip-hop, and music traditions from across the world that have fused and evolved into the Bronx’s soundscape. A leading presenter and arts educator in the Bronx, the BMHC engages residents and artists of all backgrounds and generations in the presentation, exploration, and study of more than 25 music genres. Core programs include: live music, dance, and spoken word events, music and dance classes, film screenings, art exhibitions, community showcases, and partnership events.
The Illumination Fund’s grant supports programs which, since 2012, have primarily taken place at the BMHC Lab, a 1,400 sq. ft. storefront incubator created in 2012 in WHEDco’s Intervale Green building, as well as in community spaces around the Bronx. In Spring 2021, the BMHC will transition to its permanent home, the Bronx Music Hall (BMH), currently under construction.
The 14,000 sq. ft. BMH will be a new state-of-the-art community performance, rehearsal, and educational space serving thousands of South Bronx residents, hundreds of local artists, and dozens of community partners. The new venue will include: a flexible 250-seat performance space (adaptable to music, dance, theater, and film); a multi-use classroom; a lobby with permanent and interactive exhibits; and public amphitheater-style seating in two adjacent plazas for outdoor performances.
The Illumination Fund’s grant is helping WHEDco/BMHC to engage 5,000+ local South Bronx residents annually in free and low-cost community arts and cultural programs, and to develop the infrastructure and refine programming for the BMHC to ensure a successful first year of operations in the new venue.
Index photo by Tsidii Le Loka.
Banner photo by EB Gallardo.