‘Programs like this are what’s important’: Bronx arts nonprofit starts GoFundMe amidst COVID-19

A virtual event with Art Defined
Courtesy of Amira Mustapha

A decade ago, lifelong Bronx resident Amira Mustapha founded Art Defined Productions, a nonprofit that caters to artists living in underserved communities.

Among its slate of arts programming, Art Defined offers free poetry, film and playwriting workshops led by award-winning authors and directors. Typically, these workshops along with an open mic night take place once a month, but since the pandemic, programming has drastically increased due to people being shuttered home.

“Art Defined sought ways to continue efforts in bringing arts education and performance to the community,” Mustapha said. “Through online platforms like Zoom and Instagram Live, we are able to bring the arts to anyone right in the comfort of their own living rooms.”

However, it has been a struggle to pay the teachers and guest who participate and money is tight as it is for many organizations in the art world. The nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers, Poets & Writers, usually funds Art Defined but it is also financially strapped by due to the coronavirus.

So sensing the urgency to keep the nonprofit alive, Mustapha recently launched a GoFundMe and has raised $740 so far.

“We are humbled at the fact that we can now meet the needs of those who traditionally were not able to attend our workshops, but because of this global pandemic, they are now able to do so,” she said. “Now that’s seeing the silver lining in this dark cloud. With your support, we will continue to extend our reach and provide hope for those in need.”

Mustapha told the Bronx Times that while the Bronx does not have Broadway or Carnegie Hall, many people ranging from college students to middle age adults attend the programs. In fact, since going virtual, it has spawned new relationships with local and professional artists from across the United States and overseas, including arts enthusiasts from the UK, India and South Africa.

“People need an escape to develop their art,” she explained. “Programs like this are what’s important.”

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