SOUTH BRONX — Lincoln Center is bringing new arts programming to the South Bronx, including a literacy program for at-risk students and free screenings of its performances, as part of its upcoming partnership with the District 7 school district.
Lincoln Center and District 7, which covers South Bronx neighborhoods including Mott Haven, Melrose and Port Morris, began working together this past fall as part of an experiment to see if the center could help improve education in the city by focusing its resources on one particular district, according to Executive Director of Lincoln Center Education Russell Granet.
"What we’re doing is saturating District 7 with all the various programs that we have, both in school, K through 12, and community based programming," he said. "It's really exciting. We’ve never done anything like this before."
The partnership will officially kick off on Feb. 3 during an event at Hostos Community College that will feature a free performance by a group of percussionists and remarks from Granet and District 7 Superintendent Elisa Alvarez.
Upcoming programs include free screenings of Lincoln Center's performances at local libraries and Poet-Linc, an literacy outreach initiative that gives young people— including those who have been arrested or found guilty of a crime—a chance to publish their writings and perform them live onstage, according to the center.
Lincoln Center will also host a series of free events on weekends at Hostos and the Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, and it will bring arts programs to middle schools where students previously had little to no opportunities for taking art classes.
"The ultimate goal is to be in every school in District 7 and to provide community based programming through their libraries, their shelter system," Granet said.
Yolanda Torres, executive superintendent of family and community engagement with the Department of Education, said the partnership was a great fit for District 7 given the disadvantages and academic struggles it faces.
"It’s really bringing, infusing the arts into anything and everything," she said.
Geneal Chacon, president of the PTA at P.S. 277 in the school district, said she was very excited about the launch of the official partnership between District 7 and Lincoln Center, as it would help expose students to art forms like ballet that they otherwise would know very little about.
"Hopefully we get much more events and more stuff like that that comes to us for our students and our families because we would welcome it," she said. "We would not turn it down."