Contact: Donna Walker-Kuhne
dwkuhne@gmail.com 718-703-2260

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LOCAL INNOVATIVE ARTS COLLABORATION  BASED IN BUSHWICK WINS  HIGHLY COMPETITIVE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION AWARD

CHEZ BUSHWICK AND FOUNDING DIRECTOR JONAH BOAKER CREATE A FORUM FOR ENGAGEMENT OF ARTS, BUSINESS AND CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS TOWARDS A MORE LIVABLE BUSHWICK

(BROOKLYN, NY), May 1, 2009.  Chez Bushwick, recipient of a grant through the highly competitive Rockefeller Foundation New York City Cultural Innovation Fund for 2008, announces a newly forming neighborhood project, CAPITAL B: Coalition of Art & Performance Initiatives Towards A Livable Bushwick. This project breaks new ground with its alliance of small businesses, arts and community organizations, and real estate developers. The coalition of twenty diverse organizations reflects a broad assortment of nonprofit, commercial, and private corporations, including artists, local residents, nonprofit directors and small business owners, aimed towards arts-based economic development and urban revitalization in Bushwick.

The NYC Cultural Innovation Fund, established two years ago in 2007 by the Rockefeller Foundation, annually awards $2.5 million in grants – ranging between $50,000 and $250,000 – to spur and support cultural innovation in New York City’s creative sector, in recognition of its ability to serve as a vital economic engine.

CAPITAL B draws on that essential value by bringing together organizations from Bushwick’s rich creative and business communities to act as a catalyst for innovation and opportunity creation.

Lina Srivastava, the Program Evaluator for CAPITAL B’s coalition states, “CAPITAL B’s programs focus on the interaction between core communities of youth, seniors, artists and business people to create cohesion within the larger community, and create economic stimulus in the cultural sector and related industries.”   Three key areas serve this purpose: CAPITAL B works across sectors; emphasizes partnerships; and supports increased economic stimulus locally in Bushwick.

One important way the coalition serves the community is through its research of existing and promising resources. From this research of resources that exist in the community, CAPITAL B seeks to expand and enhance cultural and neighborhood resources through building strengthened local alliances.   Program Director, Jane Gabriels states, “I am thrilled to support a choreographer and community activist interested in taking on this kind of challenge. Capital B is one of those projects that works because everyone says “yes.”

In this innovative approach to community engagement, CAPITAL B promotes dialogue between artists, community organizations and local residents through neighborhood partnerships and art-making activities, across generations.  Participants in CAPITAL B include:  Boricua College, Brooklyn Fire Proof, Brooklyn Public Library, El Puente, Dwelling Research Corporation, P.S. 147, Ridgewood-Bushwick Community Senior Citizens Council, Arts in Bushwick, Make The Road and The Bushwick Starr. (For a complete listing of organizations, see attached).

CAPITAL B recognizes that Northern Brooklyn offers a vibrant array of arts organizations and independent businesses, and holds valuable potential to become a nucleus of economic development, urban revitalization, and cultural programming of outstanding artistic quality. CAPITAL B will provide the infrastructure through monthly community gatherings to create a venue for participants to discuss topics ranging from civic participation, forming alliances among arts spaces, serving local arts venues and community organizations through facilitating internship programs, increasing arts access for senior populations and creating a cultural map of Bushwick, among other initiatives.

The Rockefeller Foundation awarded the grant to Chez Bushwick for its unique positioning  in the community:  CAPITAL B “…will help a Brooklyn coalition stabilize a community by building new alliances among organizations ranging from local arts groups to real estate developers.”  Chez Bushwick’s Founding Director, Jonah Bokaer, choreographer, media artist, community activist and former dancer with Merce Cunningham Dance Company states his vision for the award-winning project: “Sustainable neighborhoods need long-term integrated investment in the arts. When arts programming is hosted in conjunction with education, health, economic development and safety, community cohesion can and will improve over time, in a reinforcing cycle.”

Board Chair Erica Marks echoes this statement of local vitality and focus on the arts:  “Chez Bushwick and Jonah Bokaer have always been on the forefront of artistic innovation.  The organization champions and provides cutting edge programming, and a nurturing and affordable space for the creation of new work.  Community involvement and collaboration have always been at the heart of Chez Bushwick’s mission.  Now, thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation, CAPITAL B allows Chez Bushwick to expand upon this work, reaching into the Bushwick community at large and bringing artists, students, and activists together to better the neighborhood and help stabilize and inspire its residents.”

ABOUT CAPITAL B The mission of CAPITAL B  is to establish a more engaged network of cultural alliances between arts venues and local communities, by pooling resources to help stimulate greater civic participation, and strengthen neighborhood sustainability in North Brooklyn.

Adriana Valdez Young will serve as CAPITAL B’s research director and will collaborate with partner organizations and individual artists to lead participatory neighborhood mapping projects that will trace Bushwick’s economic, cultural and spatial networks of support.

ABOUT CHEZ BUSHWICK Chez Bushwick, an artist-run organization based in Brooklyn, is dedicated to the advancement of interdisciplinary art, dance and performance, with a strong focus on Community Development.  Since its inception in 2002, the organization has been acknowledged as a new model for economic sustainability in the performing arts, offering New York City’s only $5 subsidy for rehearsal space, and thereby fostering the creation, development, and performance of new work.  Chez Bushwick is also responsible for a number of monthly performance programs that encourage artistic freedom, collaboration, and creative risk-taking.  Additionally, the organization also oversees, structures, and supports the activities of CPR – Center for Performance Research, a L.E.E.D.-certified green building in Brooklyn, of which Chez Bushwick is a founding partner.

COMPLETE LIST OF PARTICIPANTS IN CHEZ BUSHWICK’S CAPTIAL B:

Coalition Organizers:
Make The Road NY
Arts In Bushwick
Chris Henderson & Associates

Coalition Partners
Anchor Tenant: Boricua College.
Anchor Tenant: The Bushwick Library.
Anchor Tenant: P.S. 147 Elementary.
Anchor Tenant: Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council.
Developer: Herschenfeld Design Inc. is a Community Activist in Brooklyn.
Developer: Propeller Group is a Community Activist in Brooklyn.
Theater: The Bushwick Starr is a leading theater in Bushwick.
Human Rights Institution: El Puente is a community leader in Bushwick.
Arts organization: Norte Maar For Collaborative Projects In The Arts is a nonprofit serving Bushwick.
Environmental: Trees Not Trash is a leading beautification project in Bushwick.

Community Arts Partners (CAPs):

3rd Ward (For-Profit Arts Space)
Ad Hoc Art (Artist-Run Gallery)
Arts In Bushwick (Community Arts & Advocacy Group)
Boricua College (Brooklyn-Based College)
Brooklyn Fire Proof (Gallery, Film & Production Facility)
Brooklyn Public Library (Public Library)
Chez Bushwick (Nonprofit Cultural Organization)
El Puente (Community Leadership Organization)
The Propeller Group (Real Estate Developer)
English Kills (Arts Space & Gallery)
Grace Space (Gallery & Performance Space)
Lumenhouse (Photography Studio & Gallery)
Office Ops (Multi-Arts Production Space)
Pocket Utopia (Arts Space & Gallery)
P.S. 147/Isaac Ramsen Elementary (Public School)
Ridgewood-Bushwick Community Senior Citizens Council (Senior Advocacy)
Starr Street Projects (Independent Arts Space)
The Bushwick Starr (Blackbox Theater)
Trees Not Trash (Beautification Project)

CAPITAL B Project Staff:
Founding Director Jonah Bokaer
Program Director Jane Gabriels
Research Director Adriana Valdez Young
Program Evaluator Lina Srivastava
Media Strategist Donna Walker- Kuhne
Photographer Michael Hart

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