Art, in its many forms, is connected to the community. The arts have a long history of bringing people together across boundaries -- increasing understandings across disparate and historically unequal groups, and supporting the agency of underrepresented communities to create, maintain and share their own stories. Art serves to enrich the physical, economic, social and cultural elements of a community.
Long Island has many arts and culture institutions, but without guidance, tourists often do not know where they are or what they are featuring. With our help, the Long Island Arts Alliance created the ArtsAliveLI.org website and maps as a hub to promote the region’s robust arts and culture institutions and targeting tourists looking for activities and points of interest. The Alliance plays a vital role in enhancing the quality of life for residents and attracting visitors to the region by highlighting and showcasing the region’s cultural attractions. Local venues have reported increased attendance which they partially attribute to increased visibility provided through the regional map and website.
Central Islip frequently faces gang violence, crime, and cultural conflicts. Its downtown commercial strips and storefronts have been neglected, and the community lacked a safe space for residents to get together. An array of Central American immigrants and African American residents bring a rich culture to the area, but they needed a place to gather. By pooling grant money, including funds from the Greentree Foundation, LICF gave $20,000 so Teatro Experimental Yerbabruja could open an arts center in downtown Central Islip. With enthusiastic backing from the community, the arts and cultural center has helped bring diverse ethnic groups together, revitalized neglected commercial space, and spurred economic development.
A vibrant downtown needs the arts. Ask anyone in Huntington, where the Cinema Arts Centre lures visitors, who then spend money at restaurants and shops. A study conducted by the Long Island Association indicates that arts organizations generate more than 3,000 jobs on the Island, with annual payrolls of almost $150 million.
The Cinema almost went extinct when digital technologies accelerated, making traditional 35mm projection systems obsolete. The Cinema received private and state support for the campaign; with a $20,000 grant from LICF, they closed the gap. The Cinema uses the power of film to create a sense of community around important issues like the environment, social justice, and human rights.