HOB’s most longstanding program, Brooklyn Cultural Adventures Program (BCAP), is an educational summer camp for youth to explore the arts, culture, humanities and sciences using the resources of the six member institutions. BCAP introduces local children ages 7-12 to educational, cultural, and recreational resources at HOB member institutions through hands-on exploration of the arts, culture, and the sciences. Over 50% of participants receive tuition assistance annually. BCAP campers come from 31 zip codes, representing a broad cross-section of Brooklyn’s diverse population.
The success of BCAP Summer Camp has led to new initiatives to allow more youth to benefit from the BCAP experience and to reach some of the most underserved families in the community. In 2008, with an award from that National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and funding from the Department of Youth and Community Development’s Cultural After-School Adventures (CASA) initiative, HOB created BCAP After-School for residents of the Breukelen Houses, a New York City Housing Authority site in East New York. In 2008, BCAP Summer Camp expanded to include a new Junior Adventurers program for 7-8 year olds and was recognized as “Best Day Camp in Brooklyn for Big Kids” by Nickelodeon’s Parents’ Picks online awards. In recognition of BCAP’s contributions to the youth and families of Brooklyn, BCAP received a 2007 Nurturing the Children Award from the New York Life Foundation.
Tourism & Marketing
To further stimulate economic development and attract new visitors to its central Brooklyn neighborhood, HOB began the Experience the Heart of Brooklyn Cultural Tourism Initiative (CTI), targeting both group and individual travelers. In cooperation with the member institutions, Brooklyn Tourism and other community partners, HOB has created themed itineraries and tour packages, sponsored tourism education seminars, hosted Familiarization (FAM) tours for motor coach operators.
In partnership with the Business School of Medgar Evers College/City University of New York (MEC), HOB was awarded a two-year grant from the Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, to support the creation of a Strategic Community Economic Development Plan and a program framework intended to strengthen the capacity of retail and service businesses in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. This initiative is called Crown Heights Renaissance (CHR).
HOB is currently participating in two commercial corridor revitalization programs through the New York City Department of Small Business Services, having been selected as a Core Provider for Avenue NYC as well as the NYC Clean Streets program. Through Avenue NYC, HOB is working with local merchants, their associations and other community partners to update and augment its CHR plan to include business attraction activities, district marketing services, and corridor beautification, specifically for Vanderbilt and Washington Avenues in Crown Heights. Through Avenue NYC, HOB has attended the National Main Street Conference and will continue to assist and facilitate the activities of the Washington Avenue-Prospect Heights Association (WAPHA).
With capital support from the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President and planning funds from both the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) and the New York State Quality Communities Program, HOB has embarked upon the development of a comprehensive pedestrian Wayfinding System on its cultural campus. HOB has recently partnered with the New York City Department of Transportation, and will serve as one of five pilot sites when the city's unified Wayfinding System launches in 2013. The system will guide visitors among the HOB member institutions and to neighborhood services and amenities, including public transportation, restaurants and other service establishments.
Heart of Brooklyn is active in the greater community, participating in Brooklyn-based cultural events to introduce more families to its member institutions. HOB has marched in the annual West Indian Day Parade, the largest Carnival celebration for the West Indian community in North America. The parade draws millions of revelers and HOB members regularly participate in the festival to ensure awareness of its resources and reach out to a community that includes many recent immigrant families. Additionally, HOB regularly attends and supports local street fairs and community-based events, such as Brooklyn’s Best, the Boricua Festival in Prospect Park, National Night on Carroll Street, Youth Happening on Schenectady Avenue, NAACP Brooklyn Chapter’s Annual Festival in Bed-Stuyvesant, and the Cool Culture Fair.
Heart of Brooklyn collects information to better serve the users of its institutions and to build awareness of its member organizations and their collections. Through a sustained research effort, its Multi-Institution Cultural Consumer Study has helped HOB track the usage patterns of visitors, identify strengths and challenges of the member institutions and respond accordingly. This longitudinal survey has greatly enhanced HOB’s ability to market effectively and better serve its constituents. The results of Phases 1, 2, and 3 of the study have been instrumental in programmatic and marketing planning at HOB–pointing to a need for more shared services, increased marketing and public education efforts and a more comprehensive strategy for overcoming obstacles to visitation. To date, HOB has surveyed more than 5,000 visitors and residents of its central Brooklyn cultural campus.
Alan Brown, formerly of Audience Insight and a nationally recognized leader in audience research, spearheaded this effort and shared his research with the community. At a presentation made to the member institutions, Trustees, community leaders and HOB funders, Mr. Brown reported that the most recent data collected showed continued demand for orientation for visitors to the area, the need for better signage to navigate the HOB cultural campus and a marked increase in internet use by consumers planning cultural activities. In response to this feedback, HOB has added internet social networking to its marketing priorities.
Begun in 2010, Building Strong Community Networks explores the factors that enable meaningful and systemic collaboration between cultural institutions and communities, to produce a realistic model for success. Working with research partners, the Institute for Learning Innovation and the Center for the Study of Brooklyn, Heart of Brooklyn hopes to establish how cultural institutions can be more proactive at engaging their communities, even forecasting emerging needs and trends, and keep pace with cultural and societal change.