Some want to start a new craft space; others are branching out

Wards no more: Stuff-makers shut out of W’burg art center Third Ward put their heads together

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A band of do-it-yourselfers locked out of a big Williamsburg arts center that shuttered suddenly earlier this month are striking out on their own and trying to form a cooperative, member-owned organization that will allow them to make snow globes, build stringed instruments, and forge samurai swords to their hearts’ content.

The craft hub Third Ward closed abruptly on Oct. 10 after seven years in operation, leaving artists who rented studio space there and hundreds of students and teachers in the lurch and snubbed on refunds. But in the days that followed, some of those caulk-and-viola refugees joined forces to try to assemble the community art shop of their dreams.

“We want to build this strong from the foundation so that it will be long-lasting and accountable to the community,” said former Third Ward member Victoria Valencia, who is spearheading the new co-op project with a dozen or so people.

The plan came out of an ad hoc group called Save Third Ward that formed the day the Morgan Avenue space closed its doors without warning, citing financial trouble, leaving some of them out hundreds of dollars, but the group has already outgrown its titular mission.

The plucky power-tool fans do not yet have a physical space for the co-op. First, they are focusing on recruiting people to help them develop a business plan, but they are shooting to launch the project by early next year. The goal is to keep the communitarian spirit of Third Ward alive but without the for-profit model and hierarchy.

“Third Ward built a lot of connections and friendships that changed people’s lives,” said Launa Eddy, another former Third Ward member working on the new co-op. “We want to keep that going in another space and do it right so that it’s sustainable.”

Other former Third Warders are also seeking community but see the shuttering as an opportunity to branch out rather than trying to recreate the old facility.

Robin Grearson, a former instructor at the complex, left last year after she says management started paying the teachers on a commission-only basis, meaning their paychecks fluctuated depending on how many students were in a class. When the place shut down, she vowed to help the displaced stuff-makers find other outlets.

“When it closed the way it did, I was offended,” Grearson said. “[The people running Third Ward] had marketed themselves as a community, but when it came down to it, they treated people so poorly.”

Grearson hosted a networking night on Wednesday at the Brooklyn Brewery for people shut out of Third Ward and invited representatives from about two dozen arts groups to talk about what they have to offer. Approximately 200 folks turned out and many in attendance at the event say the end of Third Ward will actually benefit the arts community because it has forced crafts-people to network with each other and move on to different projects.

“Now people will be scattered throughout all of these awesome organizati­ons,” Grearson said.

Reach reporter Danielle Furfaro at or by calling (718) 260-2511. Follow her at
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Reader Feedback

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
All hail the Fourth Ward!
Oct. 25, 2013, 9:53 am
bkmanhatman from brokeland says:
I hope there will be another institution that will take the 3rd Wards' place out in Bushwick.
Oct. 25, 2013, 10:02 am
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn says:
I might believe there are snow globe makers in that crowd. But stringed instrument makers? Samurai Sword artisans? Please. Unless the instrument makers put out bucket and broom basses and cigar box guitars..and the samurai sword maker makes "Lil Rascal" type play swords out of nailed furring strips, chances are there isn't an artisan among them.
Oct. 27, 2013, 9:55 am
Pat I. from 70's Brooklyn. says:
Karma's a ——,no? You people move in displace the current residents and now your whining about having your playspace taken away.


If you pioneering transplants had a shred of forethought you should have bought the damn space. If this was so important I'm sure all those "artists" could have passed on a couple of craft ales, shade grown lattes per week and go without the 14 dollar McMuffin ripoff at Egg.

All this shows is a lack of professionalism and seriousness on your part. Most co-ops, collectives, etc usually let in serious and talented people with a proven track record. People who can contribute financially. Do you have six woodworkers? Share your equipment.

I'm no fan of hipsters, But you guys did this to yourselves. Now that there are no more locals to displace you'll have to pack your bags and head up to the Bronx.
Oct. 27, 2013, 10:05 am
Andrew K. from Many says:
Pat I. -

A lot of rage and bitterness in those comments. Has life been that bad?
Oct. 27, 2013, 12:28 pm
pookie da lion from slip slope says:
Pat is on target - practicality and reality make a good mix when setting up a shop specializing in unicorn saddles.
Oct. 27, 2013, 12:43 pm
Sarah from Sunset Park says:
I'm pretty sure that Pat I has no idea what went on at 3rd ward. These were enterprising people, often making useful items, yes, like furniture and instruments. The whole idea of the place was shared. There were shared work spaces and tools. This was not about a bunch of lazy artists wasting their money and not paying their rent.

It was about hard working people making an investment and then finding out that management had squandered it.

Everyone who moves anywhere is displacing someone, so lets' stop bemoaning gentrification, it happens.
Oct. 28, 2013, 3:08 pm
sam from 11222 says:
Gentrification just happens, says the gentrifying white lady that makes bottlecaps into earrings in kewl new brooklyn.
Oct. 28, 2013, 8:23 pm
Sarah from Sunset Park says:
No one should ever move anywhere. We should all live forever in the homes we grew up in. It's the only way to be authentic.
Oct. 29, 2013, 5:38 pm
The Chooch from The Bohemian Magic Show says:
HA! And if you mooks wasn't so stoooopit YOUZ would have bought a place here when they was goin' for bubkes. So cry me a river. It's the hipsters that have jacked this shythole into any kind of shape whatsoever. And they're not going anywhere any time soon. One business tanks, big deal, out of thousands like it all over the borough. Your hipsterized economy is here, baby. Shazzam! Out of the blue. Up up up and away goes your rent, you're adda here, and good riddance. You know the boho from the school that's old, all he touch turn to gold. Abracadabra.
Nov. 1, 2013, 5:53 am
Carmelo from Glendale says:
I hope Joel will get a new space to do the popular drink and draw. How about Adams bar The Drink .
Nov. 2, 2013, 9:56 am

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