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Meet Tiffiney Davis and Sheena Thomas of Red Hook Art Project

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tiffiney Davis and Sheena Thomas.

Tiffiney and Sheena, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
RHAP grew out of a collaboration between two women living in Red Hook, from different walks of life—an artist, and Tiffiney Davis, an NYCHA resident, and the mother of RHAP’s first student. RHAP students have gained acceptance to the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Arts, the High School of Art and Design, the Edward R. Murrow High School, SUNY-Oneonta and SUNY-FIT. Today, operating out of a corner storefront in the heart of Red Hook, RHAP organizes two staff members and approximately 30 volunteer facilitators – professional artists, musicians, writers, doctors and other practitioners – to teach and mentor the 45 students we currently serve.

I am Brooklyn raised and, over the past ten years I have dedicated my life to breaking barriers in the name of the arts, using different disciplines to uplift a child’s voice, increasing graduation rates, providing creative space for children’s achievement, community awareness, and building connections, and collaborations with local Red Hook and Brooklyn residents/artists. Advocating for resources needed in underserved communities. Whether at my desk, getting things done, or passionately working with a child on whatever is needed at the time, my mission remains the same — to create safe vibrant community spaces for children to create, have a voice, achieve success, and be successful.

Having the opportunity to develop a support system for my son, nurture and grow RHAP has been a life-changing experience, working alongside exemplary people. I am honored to be RHAP’s co-founding, Managing Director. We are an organization whose core is integrity and authenticity.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
RHAP has made diversity, equity, and inclusion a priority. The Board and our volunteers are almost exclusively white, while are constituents are predominantly families of color. Our long term goal is to transition RHAP towards constituent ownership. We are guided by the belief that investing in developing the capacity of community members is the best foundation for social change. We want to get more people of color involved in our project and have a deep conversation about power, privilege and identity with board members and volunteers.

I want to spearhead this initiative, and I need to understand my leadership attributes and role.

Please tell us about Red Hook Art Project.
Founded in 2009, Red Hook Art Project (RHAP) is a non-profit organization that provides free visual art, music, academic and stress management instruction to children and youth who live in and around Red Hook, Brooklyn.

RHAP’s mission is rooted in the conviction that creative self-expression is a transformative experience that enriches individuals and communities. As an organization, we work to provide a space where young people feel safe and supported as they develop their voices through artistic projects and activities. We cultivate an environment of playfulness and experimentation while challenging our older students to help each other strengthen their individual voices through supportive criticism. The experiences of creative problem solving and self-expression that underlie our program generate self-confidence and a sense of agency in our students. We believe that these qualities meaningfully contribute to the well-being of our students, their communities, and ultimately encourage engaged citizenship.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Leading while black is a very difficult challenge.

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