We recently traveled to East New York, Brooklyn and had the opportunity to sit down with entrepreneur, mom, wife and designer Catherine Green. We chatted with her about her journey in becoming the Executive Director of ARTs East New York. Read below for a glimpse into the making of a boss and truly motivated woman. Most importantly we hope she inspires you to think big!
HMM: What made you want to start ARTs East New York?
CG: There was nothing going on (in East New York) and my husband and I were tired of taking our kids to downtown Brooklyn or Manhattan because there were no programs and classes with cultural influences in our neighborhood.
HMM: Did you start ARTs East New York by yourself?
CG: No. I Sat down with a group of friends and my husband for a founders dinner and we discussed the idea.
HMM: What’s your personal connection to the arts?
CG: I have a background in fashion and I went to school for fashion design in Raleigh, North Carolina. While there, to get through college I would do events every month, the events included a mix of the arts including: poetry, spoken word and cyphers. When that died down I returned to New York City and took a turn a fashion design with my own label and began working in varies levels of management in the retail industry.
HMM: How did you get the initial funding for ARTs East New York?
CG: Out of pocket, we went to creative based organizations and researched what they did and how they did it. I also researched similar organizations both in and outside of the community.
HMM: How did you initially market ARTs East New York to the community?
CG: We did postcards, surveys at parent meetings, partnerships with community based organizations and I even made my way into a few community meetings; “If you don’t actually go and spend face time, people don’t know,” Said Green.
HMM: Tell us about your first event for ARTs East New York.
CG: The Citizens Committee for New York City funded our first event. They took a chance on our organization and donated $500. “ARTs East New York was something that the community wanted, we anticipated 100 people for our first event but 287 people turned out.”
HMM: Where do you currently run your day-to-day operations?
CG: A few months ago we opened a space just for administrative purposes.
HMM: What’s a typical day like in the office?
CG: It starts by me answering e-mails, and because of the walls are painted red and décor a lot of community members stop in each day inquiring about what’s going on. My children occasionally pop in as well.
HMM: What does the organizations funding situation look like at this time?
CG: Pratt Institute is now on board and gave money out of the Rockefeller Foundation and our first corporate funder was Verizon Wireless.
HMM: Does ARTS East New York have any programs or workshops targeted specifically towards young girls?
CG: Yes, we have recently had East New York Top Model that featured many girls 13 and over. We also have an afterschool youth program that includes fashion design, dance class and Girl Talk, with a social worker where we discuss hygiene, promiscuity, cyber bullying, etc.
HMM: Do you think the arts help in building girls self-esteem?
CG: Yes. Through monitoring the progress of our students, we have noticed several young girls blossom and transition.
HMM: What is your advice to young female entrepreneurs?
CG: “Go to school, take a workshop, get some education; you have to get the knowledge. Thoroughly research, you have to know what you are getting into. Get a plan together, you have to plan and see your vision and see it unfold, you have to right down your plan. It great to keep your dreams, but your dreams has to be feed.”
HMM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
CG: Making sure my children are okay, getting the best education, maybe perusing a masters degree and making sure that the organizations stays a float.
HMM: Where do you see ART’s East New York in five years?
CG: Having a facility that serves as a cultural institution and creates a space for artist to live and work by creating affordable living. We plan to host film screenings, maybe even create an East New York film festival, and most importantly bring light to the artistic pulse in East New York.
Catherine Green currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with her husband Russell and their three children.
She is helping the community through the arts, one child at a time.
Arts East New York is committed to presenting, promoting and preserving multicultural arts to encourage the artistic development of our neighborhood. Their purpose is to provide an enriching environment in which our community may experience and become inspired by a broad array of distinctive aesthetic and cultural programs; via artseastny.com.
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