Artists, advocates, NYC Council Members launch Futures NYC campaign to highlight community-centered policy solutions for New York City through art.

In anticipation of the final NYC City Budget, the initiative will launch alongside a blitz paid digital ad campaign and a citywide exhibition tour hosted in NYC Council District Offices.

NEW YORK, NY, May 19, 2022 – On Thursday, three of New York’s powerhouse advocacy organizations—Make the Road NY, VOCAL-NY, and Hester Street—gathered with legislators at City Hall Park to launch the Futures NYC campaign, an initiative to promote bold policy solutions through the lens of artists from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Through Futures NYC, artists from all across New York City will demonstrate that art can be the catalyst for a just, equitable city. They will present a new vision for investing in housing affordability, ending mass incarceration, and building a caring and compassionate New York.

As part of the push towards a city budget that makes strong investments in social and community services, Futures NYC art will be a part of a citywide digital media blitz sponsored by Make the Road NY, VOCAL-NY, and Hester Street. It will also be exhibited in the offices of New York City Councilmembers and displayed across the city as part of a wheatpasting campaign.

“Futures NYC is an important step forward in pushing the city towards a Caring & Compassionate New Deal,” said Jawanza Williams, Organizing Director of VOCAL-NY. “We need investments in social services, mental health, and community violence prevention—and Futures NYC imagines what our city will look like when those investments are made.”

“For years, we have been organizing around healthcare justice, immigration justice, and housing justice,” said Natalia Aristizabal, Deputy Director of Make the Road New York. “A better world is possible—and through the power of art, the Futures NYC initiative shows us what a people-powered world can be like.”

“We need to invest in safer, stronger, community-centered neighborhoods,” said Rasmia Kirmani-Frye, Interim Executive Director of Hester Street. “Futures NYC is the first step in a comprehensive campaign for justice in the city budget—one that centers housing, social services, and the power of community.”

“I’m honored to be a part of the Futures NYC initiative and to contribute my art to this critical mission,” said Adilka Pimentel, Youth Organizer and poet featured in Futures NYC. “We deserve a city that understands us, unites us, and uplifts us—and we deserve a budget that makes this possible.”

The campaign launches with the support of some of New York City’s strongest progressives in the City Council.

“Investing in New York City means investing in the people who keep it running,” said Council Member Tiffany Cabán. “We need a budget that prioritizes housing and social services, not incarceration and corporations. With the Futures NYC initiative, Make the Road Action, Hester Street, and VOCAL-NY are daring us to do just that. Our artists are putting forth a bold vision for our city—and we must follow their lead.”

“New Yorkers deserve a just, equitable budget, and they deserve a city that actually invests in them,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse. “The Futures NYC initiative shows our administration and our people what’s possible—and it should move all of us to action. These art pieces are a form of communication and activism that should be all over the city.”

“Art has the power to shape public opinion and inform public policy. As New York recovers from the pandemic, we need all stakeholders, including our artists, speaking up and bringing their voices to the table in the fight for a more equitable, just city. I’m so grateful that Make the Road Action, VOCAL-NY, and Hester Street are working to make this a reality,” said Council Member Rita Joseph.

“Futures NYC is an exciting project that will visualize the hard work organizations like VOCAL-NY and Make the Road are doing to realize a better City for all of us. I’m proud to support their work and look forward to showcasing art in our office,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler.

“I’m thrilled to celebrate the Futures NYC launch with my progressive allies VOCAL-NY, Make The Road NY, and Hester Street. Essential to building a better world and a more representative democracy is envisioning it through the arts,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “This new collaboration will leverage the power of the arts to spark conversation on the issues that matter most to New Yorkers, like access to care, housing, and safer communities. Through this work, Futures NYC will highlight some of the city’s most pressing problems – and show us that a better future is possible.”

“As the representative for Brooklyn’s cultural hub, I know the power art has to transform lives and allow artists from different backgrounds to share their experience with folks who don’t look like them,” said Council Member Crystal Hudson. “The Futures NYC initiative is a key tool in engaging a public conversation around some of the most difficult issues facing our city like providing permanent housing to all, investing in communities rather than policing, and guaranteeing healthcare for all. This program advances bold ideas that we need to ensure our city, especially Black and brown folks, equitably recovers from the pandemic.”

“Growing up, revolutionary music both empowered me about the world I could live in, and inspired me to create that change. Art and culture has been integral to who we are as people, and help us reimagine possibilities. New York City, particularly the Bronx, has a vibrant history of imagining what our world can look like, where the people have access to resources, where gun violence is sieged and where people can live outside the interlocking systems of oppression that often dictate how communities live and exist,” said Council Member Pierina Sanchez. “The launch of Futures NYC is a timely reproduction of what we need: art initiating and helping us to imagine the world we can live in. I am grateful to the participating artists and Make the Road, VOCAL, and Hester St for initiating an accessible work that will undoubtedly inform the very people it was meant for.”

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