Art plays a vital role in strengthening and building community, and there are always unique and dynamic ways to engage the arts to support community-building efforts. This is certainly true of The Blue Bus Project, which the artists describe as “a cultural vehicle that shatters the confines of the insular art world by taking artistic expression onto the road, promoting dialogue for social, artistic and political change by way of performance and visual arts.” This past September, you may have noticed that cultural vehicle parked outside the Queensbridge Community Center every Friday afternoon. Let’s just say it was a little hard to miss!
Thanks to a grant from the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts New York (NOCAD), Riis Settlement was able to engage the artists from The Blue Bus Project to lead an intergenerational public arts project that brought together a group of our seniors and youth for a series of collaborative art-making workshops. The goal behind the grant was to encourage a greater celebration of—and greater access to—the arts within public housing. Over the course of three weeks, the participants used reclaimed materials such as plastic bottles, aluminum cans, pots and pans, vinyl and CDs to create a community tree, which is now on exhibit in our center.
These fun and hands-on workshops afforded our community members a wonderful opportunity to come together and celebrate their individual and collective creativity. We were thrilled to partner with The Blue Bus Project and very grateful for the experience and memories they gave to our participants. A big thanks to NOCAD for generously funding this project.