Talking With Leslie Schultz, President of BRIC

“The current state of Brooklyn culture is dynamic, surprising, burgeoning and multi-cultural. There is an extraordinary volume of creative activity in Brooklyn. At BRIC, we often present emerging musicians and visual artists based in Brooklyn, and the wealth and breadth of local talent is fantastic. Brooklyn has long had a strong artist community, but its growth in recent years has been astonishing.

“There is an extraordinary mosaic of artists here, too. The Borough is home to artists and media makers of many ethnicities and from all over the world, and the music, dance, visual arts, theater, and literary arts coming out of Brooklyn in 2015 reflect those many cultures and traditions.

“The work of many in the Brooklyn artist/media-maker community reflects concern with the high impact issues of our time, with social justice and environmental concerns being at the top of the list. Issue-focused art isn’t all there is by any means, but there’s enough of a through-line to be noticeable.

“Brooklyn is also an extraordinary place to take in art. We have a critical mass of strong arts organizations, ranging from tiny, founder-run projects and artist-organized coalitions, to internationally known major institutions, and everything in-between, including world-class dance companies and mid-size presenters like BRIC whose arts programs welcome hundreds of thousands of culture seekers each year. So right now, Brooklyn is a place where people both make and engage with arts, which of course is a central factor in Brooklyn’s unique character and compelling draw.

“Artists have been living and working in Brooklyn for a long time, so I don’t worry about the creative energy we are enjoying now being just a flash in the pan. But I do worry that Brooklyn is already financially out of reach for many young and emerging artists. It’s even out of reach for many young arts administrators–and those are folks who get a regular paycheck! So unless we can figure out a way to provide subsidized work space, and ideally housing, too, I think there will be a thinning of the ranks. There will be fewer artists working here.

“But I am optimistic that Brooklyn will continue its trajectory as a wonderful place for audiences. While we are very far from having the number of venues and exhibition spaces that Manhattan has, we have achieved a critical mass of presenting spaces and the number of venues is growing. Within a mile of BRIC House, we have MoCADA, Roulette, Issue Project Room, the Irondale Center, Theatre for a New Audience, BAM, Invisible Dog Gallery, the Brooklyn Historical Society, the Mark Morris Dance Center, the New York Transit Museum, the Kumble Theater—and there is more to come, including re-activation of the old Paramount Theater and a space for 651 Arts. There are other clusters of arts institutions and venues around the Brooklyn Museum and of course in Williamsburg, Bed- Stuy, anchored by Restoration and Weeksville, and DUMBO (including (soon) the new St Ann’s Warehouse). There is the newly re-opened Loews Kings Theater and several venues at Brooklyn College. So, while we are far from a saturated market, Brooklyn will continue to be a destination for experiencing art, and I think its importance will grow. Now if we can only figure out a way to make it possible for artists and media makers to live and work where their art is presented.”


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