A former vaudeville theater on Fulton Street will be transformed into a flashy arts and broadcasting center — the latest addition to the slowly growing BAM Cultural District.
BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn — the oddly punctuated organization behind BCAT television and the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series — formally began a $33-million renovation of its home at Rockwell Place in Fort Greene on Thursday morning, a revamp of the old Strand Theater that was hailed by local pols and art honchos.
“If you know the building, it’s been a heavy, forbidding presence on the corner for decades,” said Leslie Schultz, executive director of BRIC. “Now there’s going to be a beautiful open entrance and this is going to energize the community.”
Mayor Bloomberg, Borough President Markowitz, and Council Speaker Christine Quinn lauded the Thomas Leeser-led makeover as another jewel for the Cultural District — the borough’s slowly developing answer to Lincoln Center, a Manhattan arts institution.
“It’s impossible to imagine what the arts scene in Brooklyn would be like without BRIC,” Markowitz said. “The project is yet another example of how the BAM Cultural District is shaping up to be the city’s most exciting and vibrant arts development.”
BRIC along with Urban Glass, the largest artist glass center in the country, moved out of the old Strand Theatre this year to accommodate the renovations. When both return in 2013, their building will have a cafe; a two-floor, 250-seat performance space, a contemporary art exhibition hall, and shiny new “Today”-show style studio with a glassy control room on the ground floor.
Urban Glass will occupy a retail location and gallery facing Fulton Street.
The renovation of the nearly century-old Strand is just one city-funded project in the Cultural District, alongside a renovation for the BAM Harvey Theater on Rockwell Place and the under-construction Theatre for a New Audience on Ashland Place.