On Wednesday, August 19, at STREB Lab for Action Mechanics (SLAM) in Williamsburg, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams unveiled the details of his cultural institutions and libraries capital budget for Fiscal Year 2016, an investment of over $8 million in facilities across Brooklyn– a more than a $1.5 million increase from last year’s Borough Hall allocation
“Investment in cultural institutions and libraries is good for Brooklynites in ways that are not always visible to the naked eye,” said Adams. “Studies show its positive impact on public health, small businesses, civic engagement and youth development.”
This year’s Borough Hall allocation will renovate, restore, and reconstruct a number of cultural centers across of Brooklyn, while making new investments into the creative arts, said Adams
Allocations went to STREB, the ISSUE Project Room, Dancewave, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Historical Society, St. Ann’s Warehouse and many others.
The biggest allocation was made to the Brooklyn Public Library, which received $3,225,000 to fund much-needed upgrades to six of the borough’s in-need branches; this included $500,000 for second floor renovations to the Coney Island Branch, $425,000 for a roof replacement at the Highlawn Branch in Gravesend, $500,000 for a roof replacement at the Saratoga Branch in Bedford-Stuyvesant, $425,000 for a roof replacement at the Spring Creek Branch in East New York, $500,000 for an expansion of the Sunset Park Branch, and $875,000 for an HVAC replacement at the Ulmer Park Branch in Gravesend.
At The Brooklyn Museum in Prospect Heights, Borough President Adams’s capital budget is providing $1,000,000 to renovate their Education Division.
“Our Education Division is at the heart of the Brooklyn Museum’s acclaimed educational, public, and community programming,”said Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum. “Borough President Adams’s ongoing support allows us to better serve hundreds of thousands of Brooklyn’s families and schoolchildren – one of the Museum’s highest priorities.”
The Wildlife Conservation Society will benefit from two grants, including $500,000 to upgrade life support systems and key infrastructure at the Sea Cliffs Exhibit at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island, a popular destination that is still impacted by damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Additionally, $175,000 has been appropriated to the Prospect Park Zoo to replace a roof at Building D which has fallen into disrepair.
In Crown Heights, $1,000,000 will fund the Brooklyn Center for Sustainable Gardening at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. This new environmental education facility will benefit thousands of residents through the expansion of recognized educational programs currently housed in inadequate spaces; it will enable a 20 percent increase in Project GreenReach, which currently reaches more than 5,000 Title I school children, and will double the capacity of both the Brooklyn Urban Gardener environmental-stewardship training program and the highly competitive nine-month horticultural internship program will both double in capacity.
The Weeksville Heritage Center will benefit from $189,000 that will help create a parking lot that can attract bus tours and a greater volume of visitors. Also, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum will receive $337,000 from Borough President Adams to build a new retaining wall for their garden that will allow for an expansion of programming for currently inaccessible parts of the open space.
“Brooklyn, particularly the 35th Council District, is home to world-renowned arts and cultural institutions that attract millions of New Yorkers and tourists each and every year,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. “Through public support, these institutions can continue to enrich our communities, inspire patrons of all ages for generations, while bolstering our City’s economy.”
“Brooklyn Children’s Museum thanks Borough President Adams for helping us to build one of Brooklyn’s largest outdoor performance spaces, and the only one designed especially for children and families,” said Stephanie Wilchfort, president of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. “We are proud to be located in a borough that cares so deeply about the role of the arts in inspiring children and families.”
Adams directed funding toward a number of organizations in Fort Greene, including $500,000 to the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) for construction of the BAM Cinema, History, and Education Center; $500,000 for the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) for build out of the interior space for their new building; and $35,000 for BRIC for the purchase of a new Steinway grand piano.
“The capital funds we have received will help to build a brand new space that will house MoCADA’s exhibitions, arts education, and cultural enrichment programs. This represents a major expansion, as we seek to better serve Brooklyn and New York City as a whole,” said James E. Bartlett, executive director of MoCADA.
“As the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, BRIC is honored and grateful for the generous gift from Borough President Adams, which will enable us to purchase a concert quality piano for BRIC House,” said Leslie G. Schultz, president of BRIC. “BRIC House will continue to flourish as a welcoming cultural town square where we present groundbreaking programming that reflects the diverse mosaic of our city.”’
Other cultural projects receiving funding from Borough President Adams in Fiscal Year 2016 include $50,000 for storing and digitizing photographs, maps, drawings, and historical documents for the Brooklyn Historical Society in Brooklyn Heights, and $130,000 for a new trolley and caboose to be used by the Green-Wood Historic Fund in Greenwood Heights for public tours of their site.
Following remarks by recipients, Borough President Adams presented each of them with an honorary check with the seal of Brooklyn Borough Hall for their projects and one oversized check, made out to “One Brooklyn,” for cultural institutions and libraries that are helping to build the “Brooklyn brand” throughout the borough.