WAX - Community Projects
The New Williamsburg Performance Alliance (New WPA)
The New WPA is a network of artists, venues and arts organizations formed in 2006 to share resources and address individual and community concerns related to the effects of the waterfront rezoning on the livlihood and future of the performing arts in Williamsburg. In addition to advocating for the preservation of independant performance spaces in our neighborhood, the New WPA aims to identify Williamsburg as a breeding ground for challenging and alternative performance work, an artistic hub supporting emerging artists as they join the larger New York City community.
On September 30 and October 1, 2006, the New WPA produced its first ever New WPA Free Fest - as it sounds, a free to the public festival celebrating the artists, venues and arts organizations that make this neighborhood unique. Six venues, over 40 artists and performing groups and countless patrons contributed to make the weekend a success!
Among those artists participating, audiences were exposed to work by: ABADACA CAPOIERA, Abby Bender & Schmantze Theaters ZOO, Anabelle Lenzu, Andrew Dickerson/Cirque This, Audrey Crabtree, Bryon Carr, Cassie Terman, Cate McNider, Danyon Davis, Dirty Steve, Eric Davis, Everything Smaller, Fly-by-Night Dance Theatre, Gillian Chadsey, Groove Mama, Heather Harpham, Heather McArdle, Hilary Grubb, Jackie Moynahan, Jessica Gaynor, Julie Kline, Leigh Evans, Marisa Grunberg, Noel Mac Duffie Dance, Phil Alexander, SIX CHARACTERS, Stephanie Sleeper, Tanya Calamoneri, The South Wing, Vanessa Paige Dance, Victoria McNichol Kelly, Will Rawls, The Bitter Poet, Cole Kazdin, Trav S.D., Debby Schwartz, Jonathan Latiano, Chris Harcum, Michele Carlo and performances from The NY Clown Theatre Festival.
SAVE THE DATE: 2007 New WPA Free Fest - September 29th & 30th - FREE Performances all weekend long!
For more information on this past festival, or the organizations involved, visit www.newwpa.org.
Keep the Arts in Williamsburg!
UPDATE: Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol Secures a Grant Aimed at Supporting the Local Williamsburg Artist Community
Last October, Assemblyman Lentol, Galapagos Art Space, Fractured Atlas and others hosted a series of symposiums called “Keep the Arts in Williamsburg”.
Among the strategies that emerged was a project to map the arts and creative industries in Williamsburg with the goal of developing new approaches to urban cultural policy.
Fractured Atlas is now embarking on the mapping project, to cover Williamsburg and the adjacent communities. One critical way this effort differs from previous attempts to document urban arts enclaves is that it explicitly seeks to find common cause with the non-arts community groups who pre-date the artists in the neighborhood.
The ultimate goal of the project is ambitious and potentially wide reaching: to develop a viable model for breaking the cycle of artist-fueled gentrification and community displacement.
Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol (D-North Brooklyn) sponsored a grant in the 2008 state budget for these purposes. That grant has been awarded to Fractured Atlas, a not-for-profit organization that works with the community of artists and artist organizations in Williamsburg.
“It seems that wherever the artists go is where the rest of the city wants to live. I, for one, don't want the next place the artists go to be outside of New York City. It is our duty to make sure that we provide the resources necessary to ensure that we keep New York City at the cultural and artistic forefront of the United States.”
- Assemblyman Joe Lentol
North Brooklyn is very lucky to have Assemblyman Lentol’s representation in Albany. For years Mr. Lentol has led our community and been a forceful, responsive, and effective advocate for its needs. Our continuing thanks go out to Assemblyman Lentol. Thank you Joe!
Where it all started...
On Tuesday, October 17th, WAX co-sponsored Fractured Atlas' symposium "Keep the Arts in Williamsburg," a public forum on the role of the arts in economic development with special focus on how to prevent artists from being left behind by the gentrification effects they inspire.
The Williamsburg section of Brooklyn was once an industrial neighborhood. During the 1990s and early 2000s, it experienced a huge influx of young artists drawn to its abundant, affordable raw space. A familiar urban script (e.g. Soho, Chelsea, Tribeca, etc.) then played out, as a vibrant cultural energy converted the neighborhood into a hipster haven, which in turn gave way to rapid gentrification. Soaring rents are now driving a mass exodus of the very artists who made Williamsburg what it is today.
As the arts have become a major driver of economic development, urban communities around the world have begun to address the problem of artist dislocation as a serious issue of community and economic sustainability. Keep the Arts in Williamsburg explored emerging strategies, both economic and political, to mitigate this common development trend and ensure that the neighborhood retains a strong arts presence and mixed economy for decades to come.
The event featured a panel discussion moderated by Paul Nagle, Director of Communications and Cultural Policy for New York City Council Member Alan J. Gerson. Panelists include:
- Richard J. Schwartz, Chairman, New York State Council on the Arts
- Marisa Bowe, Economic Development Coordinator, Neighbors Against Garbage
- Earl Dax, producer, artist, activist
- Shawn Patrick McLearan, Project Manager, Artspace
- Lori Vincent, Director, Black Moon Theatre Company
Sharing the Fight:
The following community organizations are currently fighting against the wave of gentrification to keep Williamsburg the dynamic, vibrant and varied community that it has been throughout the years. We are happy to be among their colleagues: