The West Harlem Art Fund, Inc. is a twelve year old community-based, cultural arts and preservation organization. WHAF offers exhibition opportunities for artists and creative professionals wishing to share their talent with residents uptown and around the city. The West Harlem Art Fund, Inc. showcases art and culture in open, public spaces to add aesthetic interest to our part of the city; promote historical and cultural heritage; and support community involvement in local development. Our organizational symbol is the double crocodile from West Africa. Funtunmmireku-Denkyemmirreku means unity in diversity.
The West Harlem Art Fund, Inc. is promoting Harlem & the Heights communities, as culturally diverse and historically rich gems, in the heart of New York City. Through partnerships with local business associations, existing tour operators, educational institutions, cultural organizations and historical sites, WHAF is starting two neighborhood bus loops to get people in and around Northern Manhattan. By bringing more interested visitors into Harlem & the Heights communities, the loops will help increase revenues for local businesses and cultural institutions. Our strategy is guide visitors and tourists through the many facets of Harlem both "Old World" which is Dutch and European and the new – urban, hip, educated, syncopated and jazz. Also exciting is our exclusive use of hybrid electric, clean air technology buses. The Harlem-Heights Culture Loop will support needed economic development for our region without adding to the current air pollution problem. We hope that you will support this community effort. Harlem is known throughout the world. The loop will ensure that visitors and tourists would visit more venues and programs in our region. The West Harlem Art Fund, Inc. has begun cell phone tours in English and French. These will be self-guided tours for both New Yorkers, regional, domestic and international visitors.
The West Harlem Art Fund, Inc. has led several initiatives to spur economic and waterfront development using art and culture. Projects have included "Take Me to the River Phase I & II" that involved waterfront planning along the Hudson River from 145th to 155th Streets; streetscape improvements from 135th to 157th Streets and a cultural corridor master plan. WHAF was also the community sponsor for the eighteenth heritage area in the State of New York, the newly established Heights Heritage Area. A "state designated" heritage area allows a region to attract needed funds to improve public landscape, market and promote local businesses and institutions and spur economic growth and development using art, culture and history. The boundaries of the Heights Heritage Area start at 122nd Street to 218th Street in Manhattan from the Hudson River to the eastern boundaries of Highbridge Park and Tenth Avenue. WHAF shepherded this initiative and the legislature for five years. Legislative sponsors included the entire Northern Manhattan delegation in the NY State Assembly and Senate. Governor Pataki signed the area into law November, 2004