On Wednesday, March 18th, Brooklyn Arts Council celebrated the culmination of our 2015 Grant Season. Hundreds of public officials, performers, panelists, and grantees descended on Brooklyn Borough Hall to commemorate the occasion.
No BAC ceremony is complete without performers, and this year we were graced with some truly amazing talent. Truthworker Theatre Company opened the festivities with a 7 minute compilation of scenes from their two current productions: BARCODE and IN|PRISM: Boxed In and Blacked Out in America. A social justice based, hip hop theatre company based in Brooklyn, Truthworker provides free programming and professional stipends for young visionaries and performers to receive rigorous training. Each production deals with a different need for social and societal change. IN|PRISM examines the impacts and practices of solitary confinement in prisons, while BARCODE addresses the school to prison pipeline in America. For more information about the program, please visit: www.truthworker.com
BAC Executive Director, Ella Weiss, addressed the multitudes congratulating them on their success, commending them for their dedication to the cultural health of the borough, and formally announcing an end to her transformative 15-year reign as Executive Director. Through tireless dedication to the organization and to Brooklyn, Director Weiss has been instrumental in growing Brooklyn Arts Council into the institutional resource that it is today. In recognition of her work, Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams awarded Director Weiss with a proclamation that one day in the upcoming year will be “Ella Weiss Day” throughout Brooklyn. BAC staff followed suit and presented her with an orchid as a token of our gratitude.
BATALA NYC closed out the ceremony with a bang; 15 women wielding 14 drums in varying sizes! As part of a global arts project under the name Batala, BatalaNYC the only All-Woman Afro-Brazilian Samba Reggae percussion band in the Northeast. Started in 2012 by Artistic Director Stacy Kovacs, BatalaNYC provides a space for women drummers of all musical abilities to learn to drum and dance – the NYC chapter has grown to 85 women strong! Playing rhythms of the state of Bahia (baYA) in Northeast Brazil, with roots in West African rhythms, BatalaNYC has performed in over 100 festivals, parades, events, shows, and parties, including being the opening drummers for the Rolling Stones 50th Anniversary tour in 2012. The company is actively seeking additional members and can be found on Facebook.
Even through the ceremony completed by 7:30pm, the party was far from over. In the rotunda of Borough Hall, artists mixed and mingled enjoying food graciously donated by Whole Foods on Third and Third and beverages provided by Lagunitas Brewing Company.
The after event was masterfully soundscaped by DJ Dion TYGAPAW Mac, a member of BAC award recipient Women’s Beatmakers Conference. Tygapaw is a Multi-Disciplinary creative, practicing as a graphic design artist, video editor, musical producer and DJ. Her Jamaican ancestry and New York City dwellings have fused a style she dubs as “future slo jamz” where she incorporates 90’s R&B aesthetics and blending it with futuristic vibes that are individual and unique to her story.
Overall it was a fun night and a triumphant end to the BAC Grants season. Join us again in the fall for Grants 2016!
Sophie Kurtze is Brooklyn Arts Council’s Grants Assistant. A jack of all theatre trades, Sophie is a Technical Collaborator with the New York Neo-Futurists, as well as a freelance producer and sound designer. If she has a minute to spare, you can probably find her watching a BBC documentary on YouTube. Sophie holds a Bachelor of Arts from Sarah Lawrence College, where she primarily studied Theatre Production and Human Rights.