Catherine Green is using her passion for the arts to bring new opportunities to residents of the East New York community and beautify the neighborhood with the grand opening of the new Arts East New York headquarters.
As founder and executive director of AENY, Green felt that there was a lack of artistic programming in the community. She found herself making trips outside of the neighborhood to take her daughter to dance class and thought there should be more opportunities within the neighborhood.
“There’s no gathering space in this neighborhood for the community to build and we hope to fill that void in the neighborhood with this new space,” said Green.
Growing up, Green was treated to visits to museums, galleries, Broadway shows and other art exhibitions by her mother. She studied fashion in high school and later at Meredith College in Raleigh, N.C. Further chasing her designer dreams, she went on to work for various companies and even owned her own fashion line for a while.
Started in 2009, AENY serves as an organization working to promote socioeconomic change in the community through multicultural arts programs. They work to address and reduce crime in the community, provide educational and artistic outlets for the youth, offer support to families in economic developing areas and showcase the talent within the neighborhood.
AENY offers programs that include youth arts education, public arts beautification initiative and Artsplosion, all to celebrate, teach and promote artists in East NY.
“We would love for this move to be used as an example of what the possibilities are for this community,” said Green. “We want the youth to see that they are capable of anything.”
With the gentrification going on around NYC and the mayor’s rezoning plans for East NY, Green hopes that the new center will help preserve the essence of the neighborhood.
“It’s very important to preserve the culture and highlight the culture in this community,” she said. “We feel this is a larger way for us to do that and to be able to reach more people in order to continue with our mission.”
The grand opening of the new AENY will be held April 21 at 534 Livonia Ave., which is part of the new affordable housing complex Livonia Commons. Elected officials and community leaders are expected to make appearances at the opening. The public will be treated to African drumming, spoken word, salsa dance performances and other activities.
Green is very dedicated and committed to the East NY community. She is hopeful and wants AENY to be a model for other communities and neighborhoods across the world. She plans to continue her work with AENY nationally and internationally, offering help in any way she can. She wants to continue to address problems in the neighborhood and help find solutions to them with support from the youth and other communities. She also hopes to see more public art in the community, a larger artist registry and the continued development of East NY through the arts.
“We want to see more diverse uses of space and making sure these place-making initiatives happen like that—that the city is allowing the creative force and making sure that East NY has a strong cultural infrastructure,” said Green.
To learn more about AENY visit artseastny.org.