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BP Adams unveils millions in capital funding for arts and cultural institutions

Adams Focused on Preserving ‘Unique Flavor’ of Brooklyn

November 22, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Standing beside theater artifacts, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna present honorary checks to capital budget recipients benefitting from his arts and cultural institutions capital budget for FY17. Photo Credit: Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP’s office
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On Monday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams unveiled the details of his arts and cultural institutions capital budget for Fiscal Year 2017, an investment of more than $7.9 million in facilities across Brooklyn. He made the announcement in Bedford-Stuyvesant at the Billie Holiday Theatre, a 45-year-old performing arts space at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza that was built to expose the community to the arts and employ local talent. The theater, which has been home to world-renowned artists such as Debbie Allen and Samuel L. Jackson, will benefit from $200,000 in funding to support its first-ever major renovation.

Standing beside theater artifacts that have been discovered during the ongoing restoration work, Adams spoke about how his capital allocations are focused on preserving the “unique flavor” of Brooklyn, in addition to fostering the creative spirit that is inspiring cutting-edge cultural expression.           

“Brooklyn is home to everyone from everywhere, and our arts scene reflects that,” said Adams. “Our popularity comes from being a melting pot of so many diverse forms of expression, and that generates millions of dollars for our borough. Our first-class cultural institutions genuinely care about the people of this borough and the people of this city. They have brought a new signature to arts and culture and made it applicable to today’s life. Now more than ever, as people adjust to the national climate, they are going to need these outlets. We need to figure out how to use these cultural spaces as safe spaces where people can express themselves on both sides of an issue.”

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In Crown Heights, $500,000 will fund the construction of new wet labs and classroom space for the Brooklyn Center for Sustainable Gardening at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In the same neighborhood, Adams granted $250,000 to the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History, which will go toward the preservation of the historic Hunterfly Road Houses. Dating back to the 1830s, the time of the first free African-American community in Brooklyn, these landmarked structures are part of the Weeksville Heritage Center. Also, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum will receive more than $1.34 million from Adams to support construction of a new retaining wall for their garden, which will allow for an expansion of programming for currently inaccessible parts of the open space.  

At the Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights, Adams’ capital budget is providing $1 million for a comprehensive building envelope project to address issues that threaten the institution’s ability to protect its collections and maintain climate control.

Adams committed $250,000 to build out the new Dancewave Center in Park Slope to three times the size of the organization’s current center. This planned community hub will offer dance training for all ages, affordable rehearsal space, artist talks, community events, performances and workshops. In the same neighborhood, he granted $144,000 to the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music for the purchase of new Steinway pianos, replacing models that are up to 112 years old, as well as $50,000 to Spoke the Hub Dancing for the acquisition of retractable seating for the Gowanus Arts building. Additionally, Gowanus-based film festival Rooftop Films procured $45,000 for a new cargo van to transport film equipment to their hundreds of outdoor community screenings.

Adams directed FY17 funding toward a number of cultural organizations in Fort Greene, including $1 million to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the Fulton Street Redevelopment Project, which will update the Harvey Theater and better activate two adjacent properties; $500,000 to the Theatre for a New Audience for the outfitting of new offices and studio space; $482,000 to Mark Morris Dance Group for the recladding of their center’s deteriorating façade and $35,000 to BRIC House for upgrades to the theatrical lighting system in their main theater.  

The Brooklyn Historical Society, an educational center, library and museum based in Brooklyn Heights, obtained $250,000 in FY17 funds from Adams for HVAC system upgrades. 

Two cultural institutions in Williamsburg benefitted from Adams’ capital budget. For STREB Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM), a school that teaches acrobatics and experimental dance to adults and youth, $500,000 went to further renovations that will allow for expanded and enhanced public usage and programming. National Sawdust, an artist-led nonprofit venue, garnered $35,000 for the installation of their livestreaming project, which will enable the sharing of live music with a wider audience. In nearby East Williamsburg, Adams allotted $47,000 for a new computer for the International Studio and Curatorial Program, which provides free weekly public cultural programming on international contemporary art.                                             

The Wildlife Conservation Society will benefit from $500,000 of Adams’ capital budget to upgrade life support systems and key infrastructure at the Sea Cliffs exhibit at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, a popular destination that is still impacted by damage from Superstorm Sandy. Adams also continued his support of the Green-Wood Historic Fund through a $277,000 grant that will be used to outfit the Weir Greenhouse as a year-round visitors’ center for the Green-Wood Cemetery in Sunset Park. 

Finally, Adams furthered his support of the Brooklyn Public Library through a $500,000 capital allocation to create their first-ever Techmobile, offering patrons mobile access to technology. It will offer workstations with laptops equipped with the full range of programs offered at all library branches, as well as broadband access and print capability.                                                        

Adams presented each of his capital budget recipients with an honorary check with the seal of Brooklyn Borough Hall for their projects and one oversized check, made out to “One Brooklyn,” for arts and culture throughout the borough. Community leaders expressed their appreciation for his commitment to the arts. 

“Brooklyn is recognized around the world as a leading center of culture and creative expression,” said New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “We’re proud to work with partners like Borough President Adams to make targeted capital investments ensuring that every resident has access to high quality cultural programming, and that our stages, galleries, studios and theaters continue to attract audiences from across the globe.”


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