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Brooklyn Academy of Music seeks the big bucks in hard times

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One year into an ambitious, five-year, $300-million fundraising mission, the Brooklyn Academy of Music has already netted half of the coveted cash. But can the arts center raise the rest at in a time when other arts institutions are seeing sharp declines in donations?

BAM officials say yes.

The cash-generating effort started quietly about 12 months ago and netted the cultural hub about $160 million for its “Next Wave” development plan, which calls for a black box theater on Ashland Place, plus a new movie theater, art gallery and residential building in a yet-to-be-determined location in the BAM Cultural District — the borough’s so-called Lincoln Center.

The expansive — and expensive — plans aren’t just architectural.

The sought-after cash will also go towards revamping programming with the continuation of “Bridge Project” performances like the current production of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard,” and the launch of an Opera Biennial and a 10-day citywide Muslim arts and culture festival featuring performances, films, exhibitions and lectures.

The far-reaching “Next Wave” program also includes the goal of doubling BAM’s $67-million endowment by 2014.

That’s a heck of a goal.

“We are usually pretty successful with our fundraising,” Alan Fishman, chairman of the BAM Board of Trustees, said at a splashy press event to kick off the second phase of the money push. “We understand what people are going through, but we are confident.

“We’re not foolish, we’re not arrogant — we just want to make this work,” he added.

BAM’s decision to go public with its massive fundraising requests at a time when other arts institutions are tightening their belts or shuttering their facilities is a bold move, and fundraising experts say the breadth of the cash-generating effort might make it easier for BAM to achieve its goals while other cultural organizations face scathing budget cuts.

“It can be achieved, but it’s going to be difficult,” said Kate Levin, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs. “BAM has done a great job getting what they’ve gotten so far. They have a wide range of things for people to invest in. It’s incredibly helpful to have that large of a palette.”

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Reader Feedback

AS from PS says:
Misleading photo.
That construction had to do with a NYC Transit project underground and had nothing to do with BAM.
Jan. 22, 2009, 1:28 pm

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