Whether a mural, mosaic tile, bike rack or sculpture, public works of art can be transformative. They enliven our shared spaces and signal to both residents and visitors that this space is unique and special for everyone. With a $50,000 grant through the National Endowment for the Arts’s (NEA) “Our Town” program, ArtsWestchester and the White Plains Housing Authority, with its development partner Trinity Financial, will be able to use the arts to transform one of the Housing Authority’s properties into a unique, creativity-infused neighborhood.
Brookfield Commons represents a multi-million dollar investment in a refreshed vision for equitable and inclusive communities. Over the next ten years, Brookfield will replace the current Winbrook Housing Complex. The plan includes new energy-efficient buildings, recreation spaces and various amenities, including bike racks, rooftop terraces, walking paths and outdoor sitting and play areas. A goal of the redevelopment is to foster an environment that will not only change non-residents’ perceptions of affordable housing, but will also change residents’ self-perception. With this support from NEA, the arts will be an integral part of the plan.
Whereas in many cases artists are invited to bring work to a location after construction is finished, this Brookfield Commons project invites artists and residents to both be part of the visioning of the campus when it is still in the design phase. The grant will allow for both an artist-in-residence program and the development of an overarching master plan for the implementation of arts and culture into Brookfield Commons. The project will explore all possibilities for public art, from sculptural entranceways to artist-designed signage.
ArtsWestchester and the White Plains Housing Authority have long shared a vision for making the arts integral to, and integrated into, the Westchester community. Together, the organizations have collaborated on murals, and on the ArtsWestchester ArtsMobile, to bring the arts to people where they live and gather. The Our Town award advances this collaboration to a new level, creating a partnership with the potential to be a national model for the future of public housing.
A version of this article first appeared in the June issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.