By Carla Zanoni
UPPER MANHATTAN — For Sandra Garcia Betancourt, living among artists has always been a part of her experience of Northern Manhattan.
Although 11 years have passed since she moved to Washington Heights, Betancourt clearly remembers the way she felt the first time the sounds of opera singers practicing their scales and songs drifted through her window.
And now, through her work with the nonprofit arts group, Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA), she recognizes just how far the artistic community extends into the reaches of Upper Manhattan.
“I think artists here have been underground in a way and untapped,” said Betancourt, executive director and CEO of NoMAA.
NoMAA plans to host an artist’s town hall on Monday, Sept. 20, to meet artists living in the area and hear about their projects, concerns and needs.
NoMAA, now in its third year, already offers an array of grants and services for artists, and teaches artists how to be better at business and at promoting their work.
The group also hosts yearly events such as the Uptown Arts Stroll, a month-long art festival and educational seminar throughout Inwood and Washington Heights.
But Betancourt thinks the nonprofit group can strive to do more.
“We know there are a lot of artists out there who we have not been in contact with,” she said, adding “A lot of the artists work outside the neighborhood, because that is where they have found communities or venues to show their work and we don’t yet have many galleries or spaces for artists.”
Betancourt said she and her group hope to change that through their work, but first she has to build a network with the individual artists.
“We want to talk to all of them and learn more about their needs, so that we can form an arts community that is strong,” she said.
The meeting will be held on Sept. 20, Monday, at 6 p.m. at the Cornerstone Center at 178 Bennett Avenue, near West 189th Street.
Participants are asked to RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-568-4396 for more information.