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Two Trees transfers ownership of space to Downtown Arts Center

Key Site On Boerum Place Continues To Serve Innovative ISSUE Project Room Theatre

April 4, 2022 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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At the close of 2021, ISSUE completed the legal transfer of the deed from the former owner, Two Trees Management. With the support and advocacy of City Council Member, Stephen Levin (whose Council term is now completed) plus Brooklyn Borough President — now NYC Mayor — The Honorable Eric Adams, the donation will assist in advancing the City-managed renovation of the theater. In the November 2021 Financial Plan (Fiscal Year 2022 – 2025), the City also allocated an additional $1m towards the capital project.

ISSUE Project Room was established in 2003 by late visionary Suzanne Fiol in response to a dearth of art centers fostering creative practice. Across presentations in an array of homes in the East Village, Gowanus, and Downtown Brooklyn, ISSUE has evolved into “Brooklyn’s leading avant-garde venue” (The Wall Street Journal).  ISSUE serves as a leading cultural incubator, facilitating the commission and premiere of innovative new works by interdisciplinary artists that expand the boundaries of artistic practice and stimulate critical dialogue in the broader community.

Artist and ISSUE Board Chair R. Luke DuBois remarked: “ISSUE’s ownership of the space cements founder Suzanne Fiol’s vision for a permanent home for experimental music and performance. On behalf of the ISSUE Board of Directors, we are thrilled to share the news that ISSUE now holds the deed for the theater at 22 Boerum Place; this allows the organization to be an enduring fixture for risk-taking work by both emerging and established artists in Brooklyn, and enables ISSUE to finalize our renovation.”

ISSUE Project Room Executive Dictor Zev Greenfield
Photo courtesy ISSUE Project Room

Kate Gavriel, Cultural Affairs Director at Two Trees Management, noted: “We’re pleased to donate the ground floor space of the 110 Livingston building to ISSUE Project Room, ensuring a theater for experimental multidisciplinary artists in the heart of Downtown Brooklyn, the borough’s bustling cultural hub. Especially now, obtaining sustainable performance and workspace for artists, musicians, and cultural nonprofits is a severe challenge in Brooklyn, and we’re glad to help ISSUE grow and thrive in New York City.”

In 2008, ISSUE was awarded a long-term lease on a theater space in the historic 110 Livingston Street building in Downtown Brooklyn under the management of Two Trees Management. Offering a centralized location and an audience capacity more than double that of any previous space ISSUE had occupied, the theater helped facilitate a degree of publicity and awareness unique for our community of under-recognized artists. With ownership, ISSUE secures a dream that began with Founder Suzanne Fiol’s vision of a permanent home for experimental performance in Downtown Brooklyn.

Composer, artist and ISSUE Artistic Advisory Council Member William Basinski has said: “As a long time friend & someone who cared deeply for the organization’s founder, Suzanne Fiol,  I am thrilled to hear that ownership of the theater has been secured. I’ve presented work with ISSUE over the years in many locations across NYC and have loved seeing the space grow. All of us in the experimental arts community cannot wait to join the team, and the vibrant ISSUE audience, in the theater when the renovation is complete.”

ISSUE Project Room founder, the late Suzanne Fiol
Photo courtesy ISSUE Project Room

ISSUE’s theater is currently closed while the long-awaited renovation is undertaken. This project has received $9m of capital allocations from the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President and the New York City Council (former Council Member Stephen T. Levin) and is managed by NYC’s Department of Design & Construction. This funding, in addition to the transfer of the deed by Two Trees Management, ensures that ISSUE will have a long-term home available to support our experimental arts community.

Former District 33 Council Member Stephen T. Levin stated “ISSUE Project Room is a treasure in New York City. The generous gift of ownership of this very special space from Two Trees means that ISSUE Project Room can continue to be an anchor for culture in Downtown Brooklyn for decades to come.”

Born and raised in the 33rd Council District, Council Member Lincoln Restler, who took office at the beginning of 2022, added: “Great to see the former Board of Education headquarters converted into a permanent home for the ISSUE Project Room. Thank you to Steve Levin, Mayor Adams, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, and Jed Walentas and the Two Trees team for helping to ensure Issue Project Room owns their home and remains an integral part of the Downtown Brooklyn community long term.”

While the theater has been closed, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ISSUE has expanded platforms for new work, continuing to support artists online and in a wide range of locations across New York City. ISSUE has worked with over 250 artists across more than 100 commissioned presentations, reaching more than 75,000 people in New York City and around the world. ISSUE looks forward to continuing to bring commissions, premieres, and rare performances to different contexts and spaces.

ISSUE Project Room gratefully acknowledges Two Trees Management, former Council Member Levin & his District 33 Council team, former Mayor De Blasio’s administration, as well as Ropes & Gray LLP, who provided pro-bono legal counsel to the organization, coordinated via The Lawyers Alliance.

ISSUE’s ownership of the 22 Boerum Place Theater is a momentous milestone for the organization. Unwavering in our commitment to artists and audiences across this time, ISSUE couldn’t be more pleased to finalize our late founder Suzanne Fiol’s vision of 22 Boerum Place as an enduring fixture for experimental performance.

The empty theatre space.
Photo credit: Joe Holmes/ Courtesy ISSUE Project Room

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