Efforts Continue to Raise Funds To Save The Historic Slave Theater

The performance arts form a portal to another realm of culture, history and fantastical creation, and the New Brooklyn Theater’s (NBT) endeavors to save The Slave Theater at 1215 Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy are part of a significant push to continue its prosperity in the neighborhood.

On August 9, a postponed foreclosure auction on the historic Slave Theater – an integral part of New York City’s efforts in the civil rights movement back in the 1980s – gave way to “Kickstarter,” a non-profit campaign by the NBT to raise money and preserve the historic theater. The funds generated by the campaign and its respective donors will go toward the building’s impending auction on November 5.

Consequently, the NBT’s tireless efforts to raise the money in the last two months have met with an outstanding response from the community, whose contributions have been “overwhelming,” according to Jonathan Solari, NBT’s artistic director. “So many people are passionate about this. There’s an understanding of the importance of this historic building,” he remarked.

In the last two months, Kickstarter has garnered over 500 supporters raised $41,412, falling short of its $200,000 goal. Nevertheless, the NBT has invested hope in an anonymous donor who recently pledged funds to help NBT purchase the theater. “We’re still constantly in need of funds,” Solari added. “Although our Kickstarter campaign fell short of what we needed, we’re still on a mission to purchase the theater. People are so emotionally invested in that building.”

Solari stressed the overarching sentiment of a community that didn’t want to see such a piece of history turned into a commercial building. “The building has so much potential. We don’t want to see it go away. An entire generation has missed seeing what was inside the building,” he affirmed, referring to the chandeliers from 1910 and the awe-inducing murals on the main stage.

In the meantime, Solari urged the community to “stay tuned,” as the NBT has continued to map out its plans for The Slave Theatre, hoping to transform it into not only an affordable and easily accessible performing arts space, but also a facility to “celebrate the work of landmark artists from the borough and cultivate the next generation of visionaries in all mediums; dance, film, theater, music and visual art,” according to the mission statement on NBT’s website.

Among the plans to revitalize the theater are a 550-seat main stage for musical and theatrical performances, a 200-seat Black Box theater for dance performances, a café containing a cabaret stage for writers, painters, photographers and musicians, and, last but certainly not least, a rehearsal room that will allow for two concurrent productions as well as receptions and other social gatherings.

To find out more on The Slave Theater, NBT’s mission, and how to contribute, log on to www.newbrooklyntheater.com.

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