We are up and running with programs that serve to deepen BRIC’s relationship with our immediate BRIC House neighbors, with special attention to those most vulnerable to the political and economic realties of these times.
Here are a few programs we are particularly energized by:
GRIOT Circle/ Commons Choir:
GRIOT Circle is an advocacy and service organization committed to the dignity, well-being, and quality of life of senior LGBTQ people of color. BRIC first worked with GRIOT Circle through our Media Share program. Their community center is located down the block on Flatbush Ave — they offer daily meals, counseling, health and legal advocacy, and social and cultural programming — with an ethos of inclusivity, activism, and caring around issues faced by many of their members, including food, health, and housing insecurity. (Griot Circle: We don’t play bingo)
This partnership pairs seniors with members of the Commons Choir, one of BRIC’s long-term residency artists in our Performing Arts program. Founders Daria Fain and Robert Kocik are leading a monthly class at GRIOT Circle that is based in Qui Gong and their unique vocal techniques for wellness and self-expression. The artists piloted the workshop at GRIOT in December, and participants requested monthly classes. The seniors will also be coming to BRIC for gallery tours, and hopefully participate as a part of the actual Commons Choir performance that will be premiering at BRIC in Fall 2017.
This is a good example of how long-term residencies and other consistent programming at BRIC allow for partnerships to develop around specific, participatory opportunities, but lay the ground-work for larger, long-term organizational partnerships.
Ingersoll Community Center and University Settlements:
BRIC is also continuing its relationship with our neighborhood’s public housing residents, through a new program launched in partnership with Ingersoll Community Center and University Settlement. Together, we are embarking on a project to create a socially-engaged artist residency program at Ingersoll, that will culminate in a public project at Ingersoll Community Center in Summer 2018. What makes this project distinctive is that right from the beginning, and by design, residents are involved in the planning and execution of the project – everything from shaping the goals of the program, to selecting the artist/s, to producing and evaluating the program. Skill development, from media training, to marketing, to project management, may be integrated into the project with a core group of participants.
Because all three partners are long-term stakeholders in this community and neighborhood, we will be able continue engagement after the residency ends, aiming to create a sustainable program at Ingersoll Community Center, as well as developing a template for residency projects at other NYCHA developments throughout the borough and city, including Atlantic Terminal. We are designing the program based on the expertise of the partners, including the residents at Ingersoll Houses, but also based on participatory research and findings in the field at large – specifically around integrating arts partnerships in public housing developments.
This is the first project from BRIC’s Community Engagement Strategic Plan to explicitly enact one of the main “Core Principles”: working with communities to collaboratively plan, produce, experience, and evaluate meaningful programming. Through this partnership, we will be able to deepen and develop BRIC’s established relationship with the Ingersoll Community Center; create sustainable, multi-directional and mutually beneficial relationships amongst artists, institutions, and NYCHA residents; include a diversity of voices from the very start of a substantial project; and provide co-creative opportunities that will build trust, share power, and be truly co-owned by institutional and community partners.
The public realization of the project will take place within and around the Ingersoll Community Center, in collaboration with community members, however the process of creating the project (including possible workshops, rehearsals, meetings, ancillary public presentations) will take place at BRIC as well.
Black Artstory Month
The relationship with Ingersoll Community Center also involves inviting residents to BRIC House for specific programs, and similarly participating in activities at their Center. Coming up in February, we are screening a reel of BRIC TV videos as a part of Black Artstory Month, which is produced in partnership with our partner the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership. This reel will feature 6 segments from BRIC TV, all of which highlight Black artists who find healing and power through their creative work. We will also be sharing information about BRIC’s Media Education programs, and opportunities to get involved with Community Media.
One of our goals of the Community Engagement Plan was to figure out a way to share the space and production resources of BRIC House with our neighbors, while honoring BRIC’s own needs for performance and rehearsal and rental space, production capacity, and program ownership. On a monthly basis, we are sharing our Stoop with a local non-profit, especially those who do not have a venue for public presentations or performances. As with almost all of our Stoop programs, these partner events are free and open to the public. We are requesting a $250 contribution towards expenses, but waive the $2500 rental fee and all other associated production costs. Our next program is on February 25, with viBe Theater Experience – an organization that pairs young women with theater professionals as mentors. They will be presenting a four-woman production about Crown Heights, on the eve of the riots in the 1991. Our goal is to host a wide variety of local organizations, responding directly to the recognized need for space and production values while building new relationships and audiences.