There is a do-it-yourself arts venue apocalypse happening in Williamsburg and these renaissance men and women are among the worst affected.
Take Trixie Little, the Baltimore native and burlesque performer who moved to the area three years ago and soon took her artistic aspirations to beyond-Vincent-Van-Gogh levels by signing up to train in acrobatics, parkour, and graphic design at three separate creative hubs, only to have them all take a trip to the big gentrifying neighborhood in the sky in the latter half of 2013.
“It is really terrible,” said Little. “I moved here to be able to take classes all the time and be surrounded by artists.”
First, the House of Yes, where the minx practiced trapeze, shuttered in August. Then 3rd Ward, her Photoshop academy, closed its doors in October, followed this month by Bklyn Beast, where she worked on her parkour, a form of street gymnastics that is like skateboarding without the skateboard.
Bklyn Beast only opened in January, but announced this month that it was closing temporarily and, on Tuesday, members got a letter saying that the Bogart Street facility would close for good.
“This closure is due to no fault of our own, however we had no choice but to move forward in seeking a new location,” wrote owners Shem Rajoon and Luciano Acuna Jr. “We have had an unbelievable year that changed all of our lives.”
The closure of three neighborhood arts institutions in rapid succession comes as no surprise to practitioners of the esoteric skills they taught, but it still smarts.
“Our neighborhood had all this culture and random gritty New York style, and now it is all being paved over by little bistros and things that are safe for the upper class,” said Michael Saab, head of party performance company Modern Gypsies Productions, who also took classes at both Bklyn Beast and House of Yes. “Capitalism always rules and whoever doesn’t have the money gets pushed aside.”
When House of Yes shut down its Maujer Street space in August, organizers vowed to find another space, but so far the organization has had no luck, though some of the instructors have begun teaching out of a space in Manhattan.
House of Yes co-founder Anya Sapozhnikova said she believes the government needs to step in to keep arts organizations like hers afloat.
“The problem is not just in this neighborhood but in our whole city and our whole country,” said Sapozhnikova. “There just aren’t enough government subsidies for arts and cultural organizations.”
As for Little, she says that, despite all her favorite foam pit, Adobe Creative Suite, and aerial silk spots closing, she is not packing up and leaving just yet. But she sure hopes Brooklyn saves some room for the quirky kind of work that makes her world go round.
“Why aren’t we protecting this place?” she said.