Southern Brooklyn is primarily family oriented. Culture — fine art and professional performance — is in Manhattan or north within the borough.
One organization, however, has led the way in bringing the arts to the communities of the south. On February 3, the Bay Democrats honored the non-profit Brooklyn Streetcar Artists’ Group (incorporated as Brooklyn City Streetcar Company) for “Community Service and Charity Work.” Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan presented a certificate and donation noting, “This is an important organization in our community.” Democratic District Leader Margarita Kagan participated as well.
Accepting was Arthur Melnick, BSAG’s executive director. “The mission of Brooklyn Streetcar Artists’ Group is ‘Creating opportunities for artists and art lovers of all ages’ which includes all creative genres we can accommodate,” he said. “Participants are multi-cultural and multi-generational”
Since 2009, BSAG has maintained an art gallery in Coney Island Hospital with several exhibitors having long resumes and widespread reputations. “This is the only true fine art gallery in Southern Brooklyn and one of the finest in the entire borough,” according to Melnick. Artist Beryl Brenner, acknowledged as one of the foremost workers in glass and mixed media in the country, chimed in, “BSAG is a great organization that has been serving artists as well as the community in southern Brooklyn for years. I am proud to be a member of this group of talented artists.” Fellow artist and Dyker Singer Kate Dobrowsky stood by.
Although BSAG has provided venues for performers since its inception, they have recently become a major part of the BSAG mission.
“With the opportunity to produce TV with BRIC Media,” says Melnick, ”my first thought was to present the much maligned community of Coney Island in a positive light. The talent is overwhelming so we invited the public and, with help from BRIC and the Coney Island Library, were able to put together a phenomenal show. So many great people donated their time and energy to the effort.”
The concert was such a success that the Brooklyn Streetcar Players was established with family-oriented rap artist Mike Porter, versatile singer Anthony True and guitar virtuoso Vitally. Another outcome of the greater entry into performance has been the addition of the Dyker Singers, a talented choral group.
BSAG has exhibited in Downtown Brooklyn for three months a year at Berkeley College and displayed in Brooklyn Borough Hall; Bayside, Queens; and various locations in Manhattan. It has also been a presence at outdoor events in Coney Island, Sheepshead Bay and Bay Ridge.
“We’re always looking for talent and audiences throughout southern Brooklyn and beyond,” claimed Melnick. “We want to bring our artists and performers wherever they can be appreciated but our home is here in southern Brooklyn!”