Urban Arts Cooperative



Bill Aguado
Executive Director
En Foco., Inc.
(917) 838-1223
Ron Kavanaugh
Executive Director
Literary Freedom Project
(347) 454-2161


August 17, 2017, Bronx, NY – As the Bronx continues to transform under assiduous development and economic pressures, a group of diverse independent arts organizations have formed the Urban Arts Cooperative with the goal of advocating as one collective voice for local artists. 

Urban Arts Cooperative

Launched by five small community-based arts organizations: BronxArtSpace, Dominican York Proyecto GRAFICAEn Foco, Inc., Literary Freedom Project, and Puerto Rican Institute for Development of the Arts, the Urban Arts Cooperative has developed a strategically localized advocacy initiative that will enhance the members organizational capacity to serve artists and grassroots cultural interests and to effectively leverage human and capital-based resources (financial and in-kind) on behalf of artists. Independently, each Cooperative member is continuously undercapitalized, with budgets under $100,000, and managed by unsalaried leadership. Collectively, through a diligent commitment to the arts, UAC will bridge many communities and remain steadfast in assuring the financial well-being of artists they benefit and employ, while also collectively addressing the lack of cultural equity for the artists and communities of color that we primarily serve. 

The Cooperative’s goals: 

  1. Design and implement a survey of the artists we serve to ascertain the impact of our programming and services and their access to funding, resources, work spaces, etc; awareness of advocacy efforts and strategies.  
  2. Assess the survey’s responses and schedule focus groups with artists and the communities to determine our member’s best practices.  
  3. Design and implement a long-term advocacy plan with extensive and sustainable social media methods for our cooperative, artists, and other like-minded groups. 
  4. Assess the potential impact of the advocacy strategy on the cooperative’s members. 
  5. Convene planning sessions based on the survey to design cost effective community-based artist funding models that reflect our artist’s priorities and concerns.  Ultimately, there will be regular advisories on advocacy issues sent to artists.  

Providing funds as a management mechanism for artists will be one of the functions of the Cooperative.  The initial assessment will help develop a funding-advocacy model to present to private foundations and institutions, and government-based funders, i.e., New York State Council for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, etc. The goal is to build a financially viable alternative to the existing local arts council and institute strategies for arts support that does not rely on the traditional 501(c) nonprofit model while meeting accountability standards set by funders. Acknowledging there is a need to develop a new model, the Urban Arts Cooperative has received seed funding from the New York City Cultural Agenda Fund in The New York Community Trust. This new model will ultimately act as intermediary providing funds directly to artists –particularly those who reside in The Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights. 

Historically, better-funded nonprofits have led a prescriptive cultural dialogue at the expense of artists and smaller cultural organizations, effectively creating a two-tier support system. One in which new artists/arts orgs, which are not adept at grantsmanship and fundraising, have diminished agency. UAC will be able to nimbly identify needs and create a platform for advocacy for the estimated 4,500 artists we continue to serve—digitally and tangibly—through direct engagement, employment, professional development, and public programs, building a network to address needs and common issues.  

Further, UAC expects and would welcome additional like-minded collectives, small-budgeted arts organizations, and networks within our geographic area to join the Cooperative. We are also hopeful that we can begin to develop a younger cohort of arts managers and artists to assume the mantel of arts advocacy leadership. 

For additional information, contact:
Bill Aguado, baguado@enfo.org, (917) 838-1223
Ron Kavanaugh, ron@literaryfreedom.org, (347) 454-2161

The Urban Arts Cooperative is supported in part by The New York City Cultural Agenda Fund in The New York Community Trust, The Booth Ferris FoundationLambent FoundationStarves Niarchos Foundation and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.

Urban Arts Cooperative Members 

The following arts organizations are committed to building a better way to support artists and build a better platform for artist’s voices to participate in change. 

BronxArtSpace is a non-profit gallery that promotes the innovative ideas of underrepresented and emerging artists and curators. Started in 2008 by Linda Cunningham and Mitsu Hadeishi, BronxArtSpace is dedicated to exhibiting the highest quality artwork from the Bronx and around the world. Our mission is to foster dialogue around the contemporary local, national and global issues while advancing local arts education and opportunities. www.bronxartspace.com  

Dominican York Proyecto GRAFICA is a printmaking collective of 12 artists of Dominican descent who live and work in and around New York City. The artists of the collective are: Carlos Almonte, Pepe Coronado, René de los Santos, iliana emilia garcía, Reynaldo García Pantaleón, Scherezade García, Alex Guerrero, Luanda Lozano, Miguel Luciano, Yunior Chiqui Mendoza, Moses Ros-Suárez, and Rider Ureña. www.dypg.org   

En Foco, Incis a non-profit that supports contemporary primarily U.S.-based photographers of African, Asian, Latino, Native American and Pacific Islander heritage. Founded in 1974, En Foco makes their work visible to the art world, yet remains accessible to under-serviced communities. Through exhibitions, workshops, events and publications, it provides professional recognition, honoraria and assistance to photographers as they grow into different stages of their careers. www.enfoco.org   

Literary Freedom Project is a Bronx-based non-profit arts organization that seeks to restore the importance of social and cultural identity through reading. Towards this goal, LFP publishes Mosaic Literary Magazine; develops literature-based lesson plans; presents the Mosaic Literary Conference and cohosts the Bronx Book Fair. www.literaryfreedom.org  

PRIDA, Puerto Rican Institute for the Development of the Arts is an organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Puerto Rican artists and the arts. PRIDA supports Puerto Rican artists with a website, timely newsletter, and social networking resources that Inform members about upcoming events and opportunities. www.prida.org 


The 2017 En Foco Photography Fellowship Winners!

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En Foco is proud to announce the ten Fellowship winners of its 2017 Photography Fellowship Program who were selected from a pool of 108 applicants. The winners each receive an award of $1,000; participate in the 2017 Fellowship Group Exhibition (opening May 19th at the Andrew Freedman Home); are featured in En Foco’s Nueva Luz publication, in printed and online editions; and are provided professional development and networking opportunities. The Fellowship initiative affirms and demonstrates En Foco’s ongoing commitment to the financial support of artists of color.

En Foco’s 2017 Photography Fellowship winners are Cinthya Santos BrionesSantana CopelandLisa DuBoisDaesha Devon HarrisRhea KaramDaniel MartinezErika Morillo, Jonathan Santiago, Byron Smith, and Nichole Washington. The Fellowship winners selected are based exclusively on the excellence and quality of the work submitted. All work is reviewed by panelists who are all distinguished members of the arts community: Amy Chin, Special Advisor for Cultural Initiatives at Chinatown PartnershipSabrina Cedeño, Membership Associate at Fractured Atlas; and Stephanie Baptist, independent curator, producer, and editor. This year’s Fellowship exhibition will be curated by Gabriel de Guzman, Curator of Visual Arts from Wave Hill. Stephanie Baptist will curate the special issue of Nueva Luz.

Cinthya Santos Briones‘ series, Abuelas: Portraits of the Invisible Grandmothers, honors the culture and experiences of undocumented Mexican grandmothers, while exploring the women’s relationships with their environments and their identities.

Santana Copeland‘s series, BlackWhiteColor, deconstructs the complex urban landscape and reduces the banality of overlooked buildings, electric wiring, and scaffolding to their parts and in doing so offers abstract perspectives on urbanity.

Lisa DuBois‘ series, Holy Water, is a visual comparison of the spiritual significance of water in ritual practices, across different faiths and religions in Eastern and Western cultures.

Daesha Devon Harris‘ series, Just Beyond the River, uses the visual language of Negro folklore along with personal and cultural histories to re-examine the current and historical discourse on race and the ongoing struggle for freedom.

Rhea Karam‘s series, Déraciné (Uprooted), uses the image of trees from New York in urban landscapes that lack green spaces in Lebanon to challenge the contemporary ideas of placement and identity.

Daniel Martinez‘s series, A Gated Community, is an exploration of home. For Martinez, this project documents, represents, and presents the people, places, and experiences that make the Bronx home.

Erika Morillo‘s series, Umbral, seeks to find the balance between the idealized version of childhood that adulthood offers and the realities we offer our own children.

Jonathan Santiago is a documentary photographer concerned with familial and geopolitical identities in his home borough of the Bronx. He is also working on a concurrent project documenting climate change migrants in the south of Bangladesh.

Byron Smith‘s series, Mosul Offensive 2016, is a photographic quest to document and understand the consequences of a U.S.-backed war between the Iraqi Army and ISIS, for civilians in Mosul, Iraq.

Nichole Washington‘s series, For My Girls, is a celebration of the intersection of black womanhood and the female energies of 90s Hip-hop. For My Girls is a call for sisterhood and empowerment.

Exhibition Location: The exhibition opens on May 19, 2017 at the  Andrew Freedman Home at 1125 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10452. Phone: 718-588-8200.

For additional information on the exhibition and Nueva Luz, visit enfoco.org.


En Foco Presents The Next Generation of Bronx Photographers


En Foco proudly announces its upcoming exhibition “The Next Generation of Bronx Photographers at the Andrew Freedman Home. The exhibition highlights five Bronx-based photographers beginning Wednesday, March 1, 2017.

The artists are Melanie Gonzalez, Renell Medrano, Abigail Montes, Osjua Newton, and Gloria Zapata. The exhibition is curated by Marisol Diaz and is on view from Friday February 24 through Friday, March 24, 2017.

Opening Reception:
Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 from 6-8pm
Event is open to the public. No RSVP required.

*In partnership with The Bronx Trolley Night!

Exhibition Dates:
February 24th – March 24th, 2017

Exhibition Location and Gallery Hours:
Executive Ballroom
Andrew Freedman Home
1125 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10452

Gallery Hours:
Monday-Friday: 10:00am-6:00pm; Saturday: By Appointment.

The Bronx Trolley is a project of the South Bronx Cultural Corridor. Making a cultural loop through the lower Grand Concourse and in other sections of the Bronx, it provides an innovative way to travel free while giving Bronxites and tourists alike the opportunity to sample several of the area’s hottest cultural attractions, dining establishments and

entertainment venues.
First Wednesdays Trolley begins at 5:00pm at the Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos which is located at Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse & 149th Street (easily accessible by the 2, 4 & 5 trains and the BX1 & BX19 buses). The trolley departs from Hostos at 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm, making a cultural loop through the lower Grand Concourse, dropping off riders at their selected stops and picking them up at the next go-around.


This exhibition is supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, aswell as the generosity of an anonymous donor.  Special thank you to the Andrew Freedman Home.

©Image by Renell Medrano, Sisters, Untitled Youth, 2014.