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October 2013 | Grants Results

The Magic of Free

The only art museum in a borough of 1.5 million, the Bronx Museum of the Arts is recognized as a treasure, but for years, most visitors came from outside the borough.

Since 2007, The Trust has made $152,000 in grants to the museum to market its programs and free admission to Bronx residents, some of whom live in America’s poorest Congressional district. The grants paid off.

“Once people heard they could come here free, attendance reached 50,000 last year, a 50% jump,” says Holly Block, executive director, adding that many first-time visitors live nearby.

“Glad this is right here in the neighborhood,” and “I loved my visit here. I’m from the Bronx, lived here all my life,” read recent comments in the guest book.

The museum’s permanent collection combines contemporary works by artists of African, Asian, and Latin American descent and artwork by Bronx natives. It offers educational programs for a variety of age groups and a career-management and exhibition program for emerging City artists. “The collections, programs, and events were designed to be relevant to local audiences,” says Kerry McCarthy, program officer at The Trust. “We’re thrilled our grants have led to more neighbors using this great cultural resource.”

The Trust’s grants encouraged others to help. Free admission will be extended through 2015, thanks to a $500,000 gift from Shelley and Donald Rubin, founders of the Rubin Museum of Art.

Photo: A Bronx Museum educator leads a family on a free guided exhibition tour as part of the Readings & Conversations series.

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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.