The NYC Arts Cypher is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Staten Island, New York. The focus of the NYC Arts Cypher is to promote positive values through arts programming, training, education, and events. We focus on the youth in our community, especially those who are considered at-risk and challenged in the traditional educational environment. Through our twenty years of service to the community, we have consistently utilized our space and resources as a tool for change. Our leadership and staff work diligently to use the arts as a catalyst to mentor and support the youth in their future career goals.

Mission

To inspire, educate and give everyone an opportunity to express themselves freely in an artistic environment.

Organization History

The NYC Arts Cypher was founded in Staten Island, New York by Charles Balducci (aka Charlie B.) in 2004. His love of the arts paired with his education in psychology and criminal justice produced an incredible organization that truly changed the young lives in his community. Charlie grew up in Staten Island, and he knew how critically important it was to bring the arts to the youth by focusing their creativity on constructive artistic opportunities. He was a pioneer in bringing arts and entertainment to Staten Island as much as making Staten Island a player in the arts and entertainment industry.

Charlie was involved in the entertainment industry and his exposure through Viacom, Fox, and ABC inspired the creation of an art space designed to provide a networking environment for young adults, artists, entrepreneurs, and supporters of the arts. What began as a production studio, evolved into a flourishing networking environment that provided emerging talent the opportunity to network in a creative environment. 

Charlie’s passion for the arts catalyzed his unwavering dedication to serving his community. He was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who innately addressed social issues by merging them with arts and culture. Today we continue his legacy supported by the local community and those who believed in his vision.

Problem

Before NYC Arts Cypher began, there was no artform outlet for the youth in our community. Pair that with the increasing issue of bullying across the nation, we felt a need to address these concerns in a format that appeals to people of all ages. NYC Arts Cypher has also been the leader in educating youth about bullying as well as addressing teen suicide through meaningful artistic expression. More importantly, we took street art and helped the youth produce it in a more constructive manner. The increased criminalization of street art throughout the region had only increased the risk these youth were facing without a constructive outlet for their talents. 

NYC Arts Cypher has been a pioneer in many of the programs we offer. As such, there are many organizations who have opted to copy what we do in order to help spread this effective programming to a larger audience. We welcome the expansion of these ideas so that more youth in the region can participate and have an outlet where they are supported in their talents. We feel that there needs to be more places like NYC Arts Cypher available to enrich the youth and community in the arts culture. 

We collaborate with various organizations throughout the region, including the Department of Education, NeOn Arts, Carnegie Hall, Department of Probation, Staten Island Justice Center, Staten Island Arts, Department of Youth and Community Development, Department of Cultural Affairs, United Activities Unlimited, Summer Youth Employment Program, AHRC: Association for the Help of Children with Disabilities, Emcees, DJs, Graffiti Artists, Singers, Painters, Break Dancers, Videographers, Photographers, and many more. The programs we provide are curriculum based and offered in schools throughout Staten Island. 

We love interacting and helping our community, whether it’s providing them with social support or a safe place to showcase their artistic talents. Our programs are designed in response to ongoing social issues that have a significant impact. We use creativity to combat these issues with artistic programs that have pioneered the non-profit sector with unique opportunities for youth to explore their talents within the arts and entertainment fields in a safe environment. Our mission is important in that we positively challenge youth to explore and pursue their talents for future career endeavors while consistently promoting positivity.

Programs

Our main logo, “The Crazy Head,” represents all that we’re about, what we have done and what we wish to pass onto the youth of today and tomorrow in all the areas of arts and entertainment. The idea being that we have all these “crazy” ideas and concepts in our “head” to inspire and teach to the youth, to participate in something new or to pursue a career goal.

Don’t Be a Bully

The Don’t Be a Bully program began in 2013 to raise awareness on how to combat the increasing issue of bullying in our society. Different programs were introduced throughout schools on Staten Island focusing on bringing out the best in each individual and building self-esteem by developing their artistic talents and expression through cooperative projects. Participants in this initiative serve as mentors raising awareness about bullying in schools. They are usually the instructors of our H.E.R.O program. The goal of the program is to create a safe environment for all students to thrive and become respectful participants of society.

H.E.R.O.

The H.E.R.O (Helping Everyone Respect Others) program is an anti-bullying campaign that teaches the importance of respect through comic book arts. Since its founding in  2018, H.E.R.O. has served hundreds of students in schools across Staten Island. The program utilizes comic book arts, visual arts, dance and technology to deliver a strong anti-bullying message to students. 

Students are introduced to comic book concepts like narration and illustration. We address the topic of bullying through a comic book layout. Students go on to produce their own graphic designs including comic book covers, comic books, or signage displays. H.E.R.O.’s principles of respect, creativity, team building, and personal goal setting work to improve student mental health. This program enables students to channel their energy into something creative and positive, instead of using that energy in more destructive ways.

NYC Art Cypher is currently extending our reach to more youth across the city. We aim to reside in as many schools as possible. Our program assists teachers, school staff, and parents by providing a fun and culturally relevant tool for empowering social change against bullying.

M.U.R.A.L. 

The Staten Island Film Festival awarded “Best Documentary Short” to NYC Arts Cypher’s film M.U.R.A.L. (Motivate Understanding Realizing Artists Learn) in 2010. The M.U.R.A.L program started in 2006 in response to the NYPD computer statistic reports showing spikes in teen graffiti related arrests. Charlie saw the opportunity and necessity to help create a safe environment for youth to practice graffiti in a positive and productive manner. NYC Arts Cypher essentially became this outlet. 

M.U.R.A.L. is an award winning graffiti/street art program that provides teens the opportunity to learn, practice, and express themselves in a positive and safe environment. Participants work with professional artists to find their inner creativity. The step-by-step sessions process culminates with a large-scale mural display. Workshops, classes, events, and networking sessions are fundamental components of the program. We finish with exhibitions of each individual’s artwork or our large-scale mural projects. We plan an “unveiling” event at our location or at the partnered businesses to broadcast the projects publicly. The NYC Arts Cypher is proud to be showing “Wall of Murals” at our venue and displaying various artwork throughout the city. Before his passing, Charlie was working on a M.U.R.A.L. virtual class with Dylan Giangrande and a group of youth who needed a positive outlet during the Pandemic in collaboration with NeOn Arts.

Hip Hop Dance

NYC Arts Cypher has been immersed in Hip Hop culture for nearly two decades through Hip Hop dance. Whether we have attended or hosted exhibitions, competitions, or fundraising events, our goal has always been to share and teach this universal art form native to New York City. 

NYC Arts Cypher represents the positive and innovative side of Hip Hop culture by continuously promoting one of its oldest art forms: Hip Hop Dance. Our Hip Hop Dance program encourages youth to collaborate in a positive environment while improving physical and mental health. We have instructors from various teaching backgrounds that specialize and offer their own unique style, some of them have been featured in music videos. This program is for youth interested in dance, fitness, having fun, and socializing with people with common interests. 

We offer this program in schools or by hosting individuals to practice, rehearse, and showcase at our studio. We teach the techniques and guide them to move as a cohesive unit. Students are allowed to practice freely and incorporate their own unique style into their performances. At the final exhibition, students showcase their talents by inviting their close friends, family, staff, and the community to see and celebrate all their hard work. 

Audio Pro Program

In the Audio Engineering and Production program, participants learn the basics of audio engineering and build a foundation in audio production, music history, production history, and music business. Our highly capable instructors have backgrounds from leading media institutions with vast experience in this field. Regardless of the participants’ prior experience in production, our program trains mentees with the skills necessary to pursue a career in the media industry. 

In addition to learning music platforms and equipment, students have the opportunity to delve into music composition. Our studio is equipped with recording devices, laptops, microphones, and the necessary tools to create music videos, films, or recordings. Our DJ booth also encourages students to explore unique forms and genres of music composition.

By the end of the course, each participant showcases their unique soundtrack at a public exhibition for friends and family to enjoy. During the showcase event students unveil their final productions and have the opportunity to network with local artists in the community. This offers students the opportunity to pique their interest and expose them to the audio and engineering field for a potential media career. 

BREAKOUT!

BREAKOUT! is a media arts program that utilizes in-house interns interested in learning arts and entertainment industry skills such as photography, videography, design, social media, etc.. Some may already have talent in these artistic fields and are looking to expand their portfolio. Participant skills and talents are enhanced through exposure to a wealth of knowledge and experience in their respective creative field. Interns learn, through supervised guidance in real world creative projects, content creation, event planning, graphic design, video editing, or photography skills either for our organization or for other businesses. The ultimate goal of BREAKOUT! is for those within the program to leave with industry ready skills for their future career.