Mayor Ras Baraka answers questions about arts and culture in Newark.
Dorian C. Bernard
Is there affordable housing in a safe neighborhood in Newark for artists like myself? I’m struggling to find a safe spot.
Mayor Baraka: There is artist housing being developed now and there will be more as we go. Right now we’re developing artist housing at 505 Clinton Avenue. Prayerfully, it should be completed by spring 2019. It’s right across the street from the precinct. We are building a training academy across the street as well. And we just opened a park there. So there’s a lot of work happening at Clinton Avenue [to keep it safe]. And we’ll be working on artist housing in the downtown area soon as well.
Downtown Newark is going through a revitalization, which we are excited about. However, residents that live outside of downtown, such as the lower Vailsburg area where I live, feel a little left out. Any development plans for those of us that live in the “suburbs” of Newark?
Mayor Baraka: “Suburbs” of Newark (LOL)?… We are in the process of developing several areas outside of the immediate downtown area. There is stuff happening in the Fairmount area right now with the Urban League of Essex County, which is in the lower Vailsburg community. There are development projects happening in the number blocks in lower Vailsburg, and that work is being done by small or midsize minority developers in the city. There’s also development that is going to happen across from Westside High School.
Hi, I’m an artist therapist with 9+ years working in the mental health population. I started out at Newark Beth Israel years ago, and I’m interested in working with Newark’s homeless or at-risk youth through an art program. Does the Mayor know of any programs or ways to start?
Mayor Baraka: Yes, there are a few ways. You can work at the Shani Baraka Center offering art therapy for victims of domestic violence, as well as talking to some of the young people that come through its doors. You may also want to contact Shakira McKnight in our Youth Ambassador Office in City Hall to develop an art therapy program around mentoring and developing leadership training for Newark’s youth.