ART AND COMMERCE
Brooklyn Arts Council
By Miss Rosen
By Miss Rosen
Founded in 1966 in the basement of Flatbush resident Charlene Victor, Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) has grown in stature and scope so as to become a hub for the local scene, providing a wide array of services for emerging artists and arts organizations based in Brooklyn. BAC gives grants that total over a quarter of a million dollars each year, promotes cultural programming in every neighborhood from Bushwick to Sheepshead Bay, works with educators and students to expand arts curricula, and provides services to artists and organizations to help with the short and long term aspects of a career in the arts.
BAC also has a non-traditional gallery space at its headquarters in Dumbo, into which it moved in 2005. As Courtney Wendroff, visual arts director, notes, “BAC was interested in Dumbo because it was close to downtown and easy to access from anywhere in the borough. The President and Board of Directors liked how the real estate developers, Two Trees, were cultivating the neighborhood for culture. They had been looking for office space when Two Trees brought them to see this space. It was completely open and had not yet been built out. They told them that they envisioned dedicating the entire floor to galleries.”
That space, the second floor of 111 Front Street, where BAC now resides, is also home to photography galleries including KlompChing and United Photo Industries. As the Dumbo neighborhood continues to develop from a home for artists to a home for the arts in its many forms, BAC is at the forefront of creating a larger community that extends beyond the neighborhood’s boundaries, bringing the diverse communities of Brooklyn together in a conversation sparked by love for the arts.
This is most evident in the way in which BAC’s programs connect, making manifest the very ideology of the Council, which is that art has the ability to bridge cultures and inspire positive transformation in individuals lives and entire neighborhoods. By way of example, this spring, BAC will host an exhibition of photographs by at-risk teenagers who are learning photography through a partnership that BAC’s Arts in Education program has with the Red Hook Community Justice Center, a project of the Center for Court Innovation. BAC’s Arts in Education program hires artist educators to teach in-schools, after school and in community and senior centers.
The digital photography class at the Red Hook Community Justice Center gives the teens a voice, both through the creative outlet of photography as well as the experience of exhibiting of their work. The act of creation is one half the experience of art; in order to complete the evolution, the act of sharing the work empowers both the artist and the viewer to acknowledge that each and every voice is worthy in and of itself.
It is this commitment to the individual that makes BAC so dynamic. It acts, as Wendroff describes, like an octopus, with tentacles reaching out into so many different aspects of the world. With some eight thousand artists currently on their Registry of Brooklyn Artists, BAC uses technology and social media to keep the hive buzzing. From the Council’s online Community Forum that allows artists and arts administrators to interact with each other to the communications regularly distributed to members, BAC is a resource for information, consultation, and collaboration as a means to action.
Creativity is the genesis not only for arts, but for the people who make BAC run. Wendroff acknowledges, “It is a challenge to create a community. There is a migratory nature to the artists’ life in the city. People come and go, so we are always trying to think of new ways to create connections and sustain our members. We often work behind-the-scenes to help emerging artists and organizations get their start, and we watch with pride as they go on to really big things in their work.”
Please join BAC during the DUMBO 1st Thursday Gallery walk for the opening of Sea Drift at BAC Gallery on Thursday, March 7 from 6 – 8pm. Through the lens of symbolism and ritual, Sea Drift, a group exhibition featuring the work of seven Brooklyn-based artists, presents a meeting of mythic ideas and contemporary realities regarding the waters surrounding Brooklyn.