Weeksville Heritage Center is fighting for its survival and is in danger of shutting down as soon as this July.
The Crown Heights institution has launched a crowdfunding campaign with the goal to raise a minimum of $200,000 by June 30.
“Please donate and help us reach our $200,000 funding goal by June 30,” the organization wrote on its Crowdrise page. “This will enable us to remain open through September and give us time to plan for the future.; we will use that time to engage in a critical, much-needed strategic planning process to develop an operational and funding model that’s much more appropriate for the non-profit landscape we find ourselves in now.”
Weeksville Heritage Center a multidisciplinary museum dedicated to preserving the history of the 19th century African-American community of Weeksville, the first community established by free black professionals in 1838. Nearly lost in the mid-20th-century, historians uncovered the site’s history and established the Weeksville Heritage Center in 1968.
Today, Weeksville Heritage Center oversees a 23,000-square-foot visitor and education center with year-round arts, cultural and civic programming, and the historic Hunterfly Road Houses, landmarked buildings from the mid-19th and early 20th centuries that are each over 100 years old.
“Maintenance on all of these structures is expensive, and while costs are rising, our traditional funding sources have not kept pace,” Weeksville stated. “Overall, it’s an extremely difficult funding environment for black cultural institutions.”
The crowdfunding campaign has also garnered the support from actor and Brooklynite Michael K. Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire), who appears in a video accompanying the campaign.
“The work they do there preserves and shares an important site of black freedom, black empowerment and black self-determination,” said Williams.
Also Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams issued a statement in support of the institution.
“The Weeksville Heritage Center is an important part of our collective history, which is why it’s been so difficult to see the struggles they’ve faced in recent years,” said Adams. “Organizations like Weeksville do not benefit from the major endowments and PR attention that have long supported cultural institutions along Museum Mile and other more affluent communities. It’s heartening to see hundreds of New Yorkers coming together to help Weeksville in its hour of need. Ultimately, a long-term sustainable funding strategy must be implemented to keep the organization going into the coming decades, and my administration stands ready to assist as best we are able. Brooklyn’s Black history must be preserved, promoted and well patronized.”
So far, the campaign has raised $33,000. The Center’s goal is “to come out of this planning with a clear path to sustainability, and to ensure that we never find ourselves in this financially vulnerable position again.”
To learn more about the campaign and to support Weeksville in its crowdfunding efforts, go here.