Gentrification in Brooklyn has without question become the conversation du jour for many of the borough’s longtime residents and recent arrivals.
The debate surrounding the costs and the merits of recent demographic shifts– particularly in Central Brooklyn– has residents divided.
Many people– including those who have lived in Brooklyn for a long time– feel that gentrification has done little more than disenfranchised its poor residents, grossly inflated housing costs and destroyed the cultural essence of what made Brooklyn so attractive in the first place.
Others welcome the changes born of gentrification and argue the benefits far outweigh the costs. They believe the changes brought on by gentrification have served to increase the diversity of neighborhoods, better the schools and city services and improve the overall quality of life.
But the bigger question is, can gentrification be avoided, or is it a natural part of evolutionary migratory shifts? Furthermore, if it cannot be avoided, are there ways to guide its direction or, at the very least, stem the tide of its damaging effects?
Beginning Wednesday, January 21, BRIC House will host Brooklyn In Transition: Gentrification Through Arts and Media, an exploration of the theme of gentrification across multiple disciplines of contemporary art, performing arts and media. From artists creating new works influenced by community perspectives, to thought-leaders discussing the policy implications of gentrification with residents of the borough, to artists sharing challenges relating to their workspace—the high cost and inaccessibility of space to create.
Pioneers! O’ Pioneers! A History of NY Artist Neighborhoods
Wednesday, January 21, 7-9pm (FREE)
This panel discussion accompanying the OPEN (C)ALL exhibition will offer historic perspectives on the changing landscapes for artists’ work and exhibition spaces since the 1950s.
Throughout the history of New York City, artists have often been the first to move in to and instigate change within a neighborhood, only to be priced-out once the area becomes trendy. Panelists will include the renowned American art critic and art historian, Irving Sandler, a witness to the 10th Street in the 1950s, an early example of an “alternative” art scene and a center for Abstract Expressionist painters; artist Joyce Kozloff and art critic and historian Max Kozloff, pioneers of the Soho art scene in the 1970s; Walter Robinson, a painter and critic who documented the art scene in the Lower East Side in the 1980s; and Joe Amrhein, artist and founder of the pioneering Williamsburg gallery Pierogi, who will discuss the rise of Brooklyn and Williamsburg in the 1990s. The discussion will be moderated by Paddy Johnson, founding Editor of Art F City and the Arts Editor for The L Magazine.
Brer Rabbit The Opera: A Funky Meditation On Gentrification (Work-in-Progress)
Thursday, January 22 & Friday, January 23, 8pm ($15 adv, $20 doors)
Created by performance artist Aisha Cousins, musician Greg Tate, and Burnt Sugar the Arkestra Chamber, Brer Rabbit The Operatackles an issue that is very relevant in the borough of Brooklyn today – the modern dilemma of gentrification. Merging music, performance art, and community engagement,Brer Rabbit will tell the story of a black middle-aged professional at the tipping point in his battle to claim the American dream, who moves into a notoriously dangerous black neighborhood just when it happens to be at the tipping point of its own battle with gentrification. This adult exploration of tricksterism, techno-anismism, and urban survival techniques allows for self-reflection on the life lessons our respective Briar Patches have taught us.
Brooklyn For Sale: The Price of Gentrification, A Community Town Hall
Monday, January 28, 7-9pm (Free)
Join Brooklyn Independent Media for a live broadcast of their next town hall. In Brooklyn for Sale: The Price of Gentrification, we explore the emotions, politics, history, and future of this complex process defining the Brooklyn experience.
It’s one of the foremost questions confronting Brooklyn today: Where do market forces and policy need to meet so that we can preserve the integrity of our diverse borough? Believing that every voice counts, BRIC seeks to include as many perspectives as possible on the issue: the homeowner whose property is suddenly worth millions; the renter who’s afraid he’ll be priced out; the longtime resident being pushed out of her neighborhood; the many people who feel the racial and class tensions troubling the place we call home.
Sharon Zukin (Sociology Professor, Brooklyn College)
Robert Cornegy (City Council Member, 36th District)
Neil deMause (Journalist/Author of The Brooklyn Wars: The Stories Behind the Remaking of New York’s Most Populous Borough)
Ron Shiffman (Urban Planner/ Founder of the PRATT Center for Community Development)
Jherelle Benn (Community Organizer, Flatbush Tenant Association)
Juan Ramos (Director Affordable Housing Preservation, Broadway Triangle)
Brian Vines (Brooklyn Independent Media)
You can join the conversation and be heard. Send BRIC your questions, which will be forwarded to the panelist via social media using #BHeard and they may be answered live during the broadcast.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of BK Reader.