Operating in the same location since 1908, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) attracts more than 550,000 people a year with a line-up of performing arts programs as diverse and vibrant as the Fort Greene neighborhood it calls home. With the newly opened Barclay’s Center and the urban transportation hub at Flatbush and Atlantic, BAM is constantly looking for ways to help unify a culturally dense neighborhood with public spaces and outlets dedicated to the arts.
The BAM Cultural District Plan endeavors to bring affordable performance and rehearsal space for arts organizations, mixed-income housing, and new public open space near the exceptional public transportation resources of the Atlantic/Flatbush station. Several blocks of underutilized property owned by the City of New York near BAM have already been dedicated to Cultural District development, and plans are underway to further revitalize the community. In fact, one affordable arts space has already opened to the public. Launched in September of 2012, the BAM Fisher Building offers affordable ticket prices, subsidized rehearsal and performance spaces, and an expanded roster of artist talks and education and family programs for a mixed-income public.
The Cultural District project also includes ambitious plans for multipurpose, outdoor areas. In the summer of 2012 through its BAMart Outdoors initiative, BAM selected five sites and five art projects for its inaugural project year, with installations running for eleven months through May, 2013. Additionally, BAM is working with various city agencies and community partners to transform a vacant city-owned lot into much needed bike parking with an innovative platform for the display of artwork. Local musician and bike advocate, David Byrne, was commissioned by BAM to install custom-designed bike racks, and a 20′ x 24′ plywood canvas will allow the community to enjoy rotating visual art, effectively transforming what is currently a hectic eyesore into a public destination.
Together, the Cultural District initiatives will ensure the sustainability of BAM as a cultural force, so that the Fort Greene neighborhood can continue to be the beacon of arts-driven change that it is today.