Beep increases capital funding for cultural affairs
by Jess Berry
Sep 05, 2014 | 3541 views | 0 0 comments | 74 74 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cultural heads from across the borough gathered at the Bay Ridge branch of the Brooklyn Public Library last week for the borough president’s announcement of nearly $7 million in capital funding for arts institutions.

Borough President Eric Adams allocated $6.92 million of capital funding to cultural institutions in the borough, a total of 32 percent of the entire capital budget. The amount is a seven percent increase over last year’s allocation.

Adams announced a number of institutions that would receive funding, including the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, New York Aquarium, BRIC Prospect Park Bandshell, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Museum and Brooklyn Public Library.

“When we invest in a library, we increase the likelihood that more residents will have the opportunity to engage in these libraries,” Adams said. “When we invest in dance companies and cultural institutions, more people can get in touch with their artistic side in the outlets of their expression.”

The Brooklyn Public Library will receive $1 million, which will be divvied up between the Windsor Terrace, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bay Ridge branches. All three branches will spend the money on capital projects to improve their buildings.

The Bay Ridge branch will spend the money on a new roof, with $500,000 coming from the borough president’s allocation and an additional $200,000 from Councilman Vincent Gentile, who represents Bay Ridge.

“Certainly, if it’s a good day for culturals, and it’s a good day for libraries, and those culturals and those libraries happen to be in Brooklyn, well then it’s a good day for Brooklyn,” Gentile said

The Brooklyn Public Library has notoriously struggled to keep branches open, with recent headlines focusing on the attempted sales of branches or portions of library buildings, such as in Red Hook.

Linda Johnson, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Public Library, said that even a donation of $1 million, a relatively small amount compared to how much it costs to run and update the library’s 60 branches, can make a difference.

“It makes a huge impact,” she said. “The problem is large and so you can look at a million dollars and say it’s a drop in the bucket, but it’s huge for [the Bay Ridge] branch and for the other two branches that the money is being allocated to.

“Taking care of roofs is kind of a mundane thing, but we have 60 of them to take care of, and every allocation like this is extraordinarily meaningful,” she added.

For other cultural institutions, such as the Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy in Flatbush, the money will have a significant impact on their ability to provide services to their community.

Ifetayo, which has served over 20,000 students and families in central Brooklyn for the last 25 years teaching dance, music, theater and visual arts, will use its $50,000 to build out its multimedia and library space with new technology.

The academy runs a college and career readiness program that will be greatly improved by added technology, newly-appointed Executive Director Sandra Bowie said.

“Our students not only graduate from high school, they go to college and they graduate from college because of our programs, and we really want to prepare them for the world,” Bowie said. “You’re not preparing them for the world without state-of-the-art technology systems and equipment.

“The thing that I love so much about this is that a borough president is really supporting the arts and making sure that the arts are thriving in communities like the greater Flatbush area that Ifetayo serves,” she added. “And that is so important, that we stay sustainable and we are able to grow through this.”

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