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Street Art in New York City (via Eden, Janine and Jim’s Flickrstream)

With around half of New Yorkers speaking a language other than English at home, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs has awarded 36 local nonprofits throughout the five boroughs funding to bolster their arts and culture programs. On Wednesday, January 8, the newly launched Create NYC Language Access Fund announced its first recipients of grants ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. The 12 languages served in these programs include Spanish, Chinese, and American Sign Language. The initiative seeks to remove language barriers from New York City’s bustling arts and culture institutions. 

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,” Acting Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kathleen Hughes congratulated the recipients in a press release. 

Some of the grant winners include A.R.T./New York, which will train ASL interpreters for theatrical productions, Behind the Book, which seeks to offer more literacy workshops for kids learning English in Manhattan and the Bronx, and Dance Parade, which through its “Dance without Borders” project will offer four residencies in Spanish and Chinese. The grants recipients also included organizations like Jazz at Lincoln Center, Japan Society, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Museum of Chinese in America, Repertorio Español, and Korean Art Forum, many of which are looking to increase their bilingual offerings.

The grant can also be used to help artists create non-English language works. As Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, Chair of the Committee on Cultural Affairs, Libraries, and International Intergroup Relations said in the press release, “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.”

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Monica Castillo

Monica Castillo is a writer and critic based in New York City. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Village Voice, RogerEbert.com, Remezcla, the Guardian, Variety, NPR, and Boston Globe. She...