Dear friend of BEAT –
One question that I regularly receive surprises me more than most, namely: “are you able to find enough artists in Brooklyn to fill-out your roster each year?” You’d be surprised who has asked me that question, and that it isn’t just people who don’t live here. Each year, I have had to cut truly amazing performances from our program just because the interest level, diversity and world-class art is so robust and vibrant here. This year was no different, but I am so very happy that I did as this year’s program was easily the most well-attended and best supported by our able team than any of the prior two BEAT Festivals.
One of my concerns after year one was the fact that many performances were so poorly attended, rather common for a first year festival, but that has radically changed with our audiences now nearing capacity for each and every event. This more than anything else fills me with pride as it is clear that the BEAT Festival has a place in the crowded landscape of New York City performance events, but more so that our mission of providing a platform for the world class artists who live and work here is sound.
Each day this year was a highlight – whether it was the Bed-Stuy Veterans stealing the show at our sprawling opening night event at the Brooklyn Museum, LEIMAY’s stunning opening montage upon the mausoleums at Green-Wood Cemetery, the raucous and sensuous flamenco performance by Elisabet Torras Aguilera in the cemetery’s catacombs, the romantic and mysterious duet created by Sophia Schrank at the Niblo mausoleum, Shirel Jones’ brave, athletic and precise movements in her solo or Mashuq Deen’s effortless blend of comedy and intense intimacy in his one-person show.
Also, I was amazed by this year’s artists who dared to engage with the age-old challenge of confronting social issues with art: Two Sides Sounding, Aja Monet and Fixed Agency each approached very different and highly relevant topics with an admirable and bold confidence which added a beautiful depth to this year’s program. And, what festival would be complete without a wild closing event? Improv Everywhere’s fun-filled and inclusive mp3 Experiment closed this year’s program with thousands of people joyously running, dancing, playing games and surprising all of Fort Greene Park on the festival’s final day.
So many parties go into making an event such as the BEAT Festival happen, and I would be remiss not to thank them all in this closing letter. Our esteemed partners: ARTs East New York, The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Historical Society, Fort Greene Park Conservancy, Green-Wood Cemetery, The Kumble Theater, MetroTech and the United Community Centers all came forward with diverse spaces and locales which each contributed a unique atmosphere to the festival’s events. Also, a humble nod is owed to our sponsors Forest City Ratner, Brooklyn Home Company, Goldman Sachs, Con Edison, TD Bank and WNYC – without the support of this outstanding list of companies, we wouldn’t have a BEAT Festival. We are very grateful to each of them for their vision and help in making this a reality.
Finally, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to our production team. Not nearly enough credit is ever given to those who provide the physical elements required for a show. But, given our interest in creating performance outside of traditional spaces, it takes a very special person to commit to our cause and to be truly great at it. We are most fortunate to have the team that we do, without which certain disaster would face us on a nightly basis.
If you are a fan of Brooklyn, love contemporary performance or already love BEAT…please consider offering us your support. We have a bold vision laid out, and even have large projects in the works for both 2015 & 2016. We need a strong, visionary roster of individual supporters who can help us meet these very ambitious goals. It is my belief that the BEAT Festival can become the rarest of events – a community-focused and accessible program which is simultaneously world-class in its quality. Does that sound like you? If so, consider a donation or reach out to our development team to learn how to become involved.
Up next? A big announcement in the springtime about the 2015 festival (and I do mean big). So, please subscribe to our mailing list to be the first to know. It’s going to be great!
Thanks for reading this, and for your interest in the BEAT Festival. It’s a great deal of fun to produce this program each year, and the best part is that we get to do it in Brooklyn – the coolest place on earth.