Uptown Arts Are Thriving

Uptown, Arts Are Thriving 

Th documentary film “Buhoneros,” is a great example of the importance of art to document our past and teach us about our shared humanity. Produced by Inwood resident Carla Franchesca, the movie documents the hard-working street vendors that make up the vibrant fabric of our uptown neighborhoods. The film was accepted as an entry and screened at the Inwood Film Festival, part of an up and coming, burgeoning arts movement in Northern Manhattan.

Newcomer Inwood Art Works, launched in late 2016, has already become a big part of this uptown arts movement. According to the organization’s web site, it’s mission is to create and curate professional art uptown, including visual art, the performing arts, and film. One of the group’s biggest events so far this year was organizing the Inwood Film Festival, which debuted last year. This year, Inwood Art Works took the film festival under its umbrella, hosting screening events March 17th & 18th at the Campbell’s Sports Center at 218th and Broadway.

The 2017 festival highlighted a number of films; two features and 22 shorter-length pieces, and held post-screening conversations with filmmakers. They also hosted an awards ceremony. “We’ve experienced tremendous growth in a very short time,” Inwood Art Works Executive producer Aaron Simms told DNA Info.  “My responsibility as a producer is to keep it small, but mighty.”

The festival looked to feature works appealing to a broad audience, but the neighborhood in Inwood is still central to all of the work. The films were either shot on location in Inwood or featured a local resident as the producer or director.

I wanted to share the stories of people that I think are hard working people – courageous people.


One festival entry  “Buhoneros,” captures the culture and off the grid economics surrounding the many street vendors that operate in uptown Manhattan neighborhoods. With so many Latino immigrant residents, and the entrepreneurial spirit they possess, “Buhoneros” honors the extremely hard work these individuals put in, and highlights how they are an important and vibrant part of what makes uptown Manhattan unique.

Inwood Art Works hopes to be working soon with local schools and youth organizations to create a film matinee program that will teach kids about the art of film. As part of their mission the organization will also be launching gallery shows for visual artists and projects that will  feature theater arts.

Uptown Arts Stroll

Another established event is the Uptown Arts Stroll. Fourteen years young, local artists and leaders have been aiming to build a stronger community through the arts in Northern Manhattan. The Uptown Arts Stroll has grown from a one-day event to a month-long celebration offering a wide variety of arts and cultural events north of West 135th Street. The  Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA) in collaboration with local artists, businesses, community leaders and institutions, has produced the Uptown Arts Stroll since 2008.

The upcoming 2017 Uptown Arts Stroll will feature open studios, art exhibitions, concerts, literary events, and performances during the month of June, throughout Northern Manhattan from West 135th Street to West 220th Street. For more information contact the  Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance (NoMAA).


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