DCLA: Supporting the Arts and Cultural Ecosystems of NYC Neighborhoods

Social Impact Strategy
About This Project


Redesigning a program to support neighborhood arts and culture


The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to engaging communities to bring about healthier, more inclusive, vibrant places. This involves prioritizing a people-centered approach to understanding and supporting arts and culture as an integral part of a community’s wellbeing. In line with this mission, DCLA developed the Building Community Capacity program (BCC), which began in 2016 to strengthen the arts and cultural ecosystems of several low-income neighborhoods. During the multi-year run of BCC, participating organizations research and gather insights about local arts and culture, share findings back to their community, and make strategic changes that support the needs and interests of their neighborhood. BCC prioritizes local voices to bolster community arts and culture, in turn, strengthening the overall vitality of a neighborhood. With the pilot stage of the program completed, DCLA brought on TYTHEdesign, in partnership with Daniel Lim Consulting (DLC), to assess the program’s design and remake it for the coming cycles.


Our approach to assessing the program was two part. First, TYTHE and DLC evaluated the workings and impact of BCC by gathering information from DCLA staff and past BCC participants through surveys and interviews. Second, we collected insights from a diverse group of experts, including NYC agency staff that manage similar community-centered programs, community planners, arts organizations, educators, and more. This was done through hands-on workshops where people, from different fields and experiences, put their heads together to brainstorm the best practices for supporting community-led impact on arts and culture.



Informed Program Design

By eliciting the feedback from a wide range of stakeholders on a variety of metrics for success, TYTHE and DLC were able to identify BCC’s existing assets and the most strategic intervention points for improvement. From there, we collaborated with DCLA to develop a revamped version of BCC. With standardized internal processes, direct lines for community impact, and clear systems for evaluation, the new version of BCC helps DCLA iterate and improve after each program cycle.


Highly Usable Program Tools

TYTHE and DLC translated the new design of BCC into a step-by-step manual for DCLA staff. In addition, we designed a handbook for BCC participants, which walks them through their journey and provides useful tips on conducing community research, building cross-sector relationships, and supporting the arts and culture ecosystem in their neighborhood.


Client: NYC Department of Cultural Affairs


Collaborators: TYTHEdesign: Kristina Drury, Michaela Kramer, Isabel Saffon Sanin; Daniel Lim Consulting: Daniel Lim, Emily Ahn Levy, Claudie Mabry


Year: 2018-2019