Arts Library Planned for Brooklyn Cultural District May Be Scuttled

Classic Arts News   Arts Library Planned for Brooklyn Cultural District May Be Scuttled
A new arts library that was planned for the developing cultural district near the Brooklyn Academy of Music will probably not come to fruition.

"The library project as designed has not proved to be feasible," Kate D. Levin, commissioner of the city s Department of Cultural Affairs, told The New York Times. "However, there is a continued commitment to build on that site and have some component be a library."

Groundbreaking for the proposed Visual and Performing Arts Library — for which Enrique Norten's "bold" and "captivating" design had attracted praise — had been planned for 2005, according to the paper, but the Brooklyn Public Library system has still not raised any money towards the estimated $135 million cost of the project. One part of the problem has been the turnover in BPL directors — three in the past two years, with the most recent, Dionne Mack-Harvin, having arrived only in March.

Mack-Harvin said in a statement released yesterday (and quoted by the Times) that she still hopes that a library will be built in the area. "While at this time we do not have the funds needed to build the V.P.A. [library] as originally envisioned, we are still looking at options for funding, including seeking partners to assist in financing. We realize the importance of providing free resources and services to Brooklynites — especially in this rapidly growing area."

Not all of the institutions in the district are facing such difficulties, happily. Alan H. Fishman, the chairman of BAM, told the Times that the Academy has garnered enough pledges to move forward with designs for a $40 million annex on Ashland Place that will include a 300-seat theater.

The BAM Cultural District was established in 2000 as a $650 million effort to regenerate the area — along and near Flatbush Avenue, between the Metrotech, Fort Greene, Boerum Hill and Park Slope neighborhoods — by converting vacant and underused properties into arts spaces.

A request for proposals to build a new headquarters for Danspace Project, which commissions and presents contemporary choreography, was recently sent out; the facility, with a 20-story residential tower on top, would be built at Ashland Place and Fulton Street, according to the Times.

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