‘It’s high time’: Coney Island nonprofit revamping arts annex into arcade, live music venue

Coney Island USA is raising funds to revamp their arts annex into a 80s themed arcade and music venue.
Coney Island USA is raising funds to revamp its arts annex into a 80s-themed arcade and music venue.
Photo courtesy of Adam Rinn

A nonprofit Coney Island arts organization is working to convert the People’s Playground’s storied Shooting Gallery Arts Annex into a retro arcade and live music venue, according to the group’s director.

Coney Island USA recently launched an online fundraiser, with all funds going towards purchasing new gear for future musicians to rock out with — and towards turning the shooting gallery into a “viable space” for live performances.

“Any kind of music thats exciting,” Coney Island USA’s artistic director, Adam Rinn, told Brooklyn Paper. “South Brooklyn, specifically this area, has not had a live music venue in I cannot tell you how long.”

Step one will be to turn the front of the annex into an 80’s-themed arcade chock full of video games like Tapper, Karate Champ and Ms. Pac-Man, Rinn said. Meanwhile, the back of the shooting gallery will be versatile and fit to host live performances, children’s art programs, and more.

The art director hopes the new performance and game space will inspire creativity while and teaching the fundamentals of painting, drawing and graphics at an affordable price.  

The building, 1214 Surf Avenue, once operated as an ice cream parlor before becoming an events space for Coney Island USA. But, after Hurricane Sandy, Rinn said, the organization lost all of its equipment and gear. Since then, his team has hosted sporadic events at the center — which the group knows can be utilized for much more.

With an upgraded building, the art director hopes to present Sunday matinee shows where people of all ages can enjoy various genres of music. 

“It’s high time that we use a valuable space that we have,” he said. “We had events in there but nothing that’s consistent. I want to fill up the calendar with amazing events.”

The refurbishment is among a host of revivals across the peninsula. Last year, the area’s famed fireworks shows returned, and earlier this month, Coney’s icy Polar Bear Plunge returned to its full glory — all signs that Coney Island will have an exciting 2023.

Rinn especially hopes the new venue will help get Coney’s kids out and about once more.

“It serves the community,” Rinn said of the coming venue. “Kids have been cooped up watching TV and playing video games for three years now. Let’s get them out and experiencing Brooklyn again.”

Coney Island USA’s online fundraiser has so far garnered support from more than 200 people.