3rd Ward Arts Collective Celebrates Six Years of Booming Growth

BUSHWICK — Minden Koopmans was two years out of college when she found the perfect job match — and joined a phenomenon that was about to explode with success.

3rd Ward arts collective, where Koopmans became assistant director five years ago, now welcomes hundreds of people every day to the 30,000-square-foot space's multidisciplinary classes and workspace on 195 Morgan Ave. The six-year-old center has become a mainstay in a neighborhood where artists and new young people have begun flooding in recent years.

"I was excited about 3rd Ward's engaged community, both with the people and neighborhood it serves," said Koopmans, 28.

On 3rd Ward's sixth anniversary, Koopmans can now share her passion with 10 times the number of creative compatriots — 3rd Ward membership has jumped from 200 to 2000 in five short years.

"We've done a lot of growing, both in numbers and what we offer," said Koopmans, assistant director of the center, whose size and number of classes have also increased. The center also holds lectures and community events.

Non-members can buy class passes online or take a free tour of the space first. People who purchase monthly or yearly memberships get deals on classes, use of the collective space (for those who opt the "coworking membership") for personal projects — and free weekly "Drink 'N Draw," 3rd Ward's popular drawing session with live nude models and beer.

3rd Ward's Sixth Birthday Barbecue this Saturday will celebrate the organization's milestones this year — and several more on the way, Koopmans said.

In the past year the space has grown an additional 10,000 square feet, providing for a wood workshop, an upholstery classroom, a jewelry studio, and a multimedia classroom in the now 30,000 square-foot center.

3rd Ward is also opening a Philadelphia center in the fall — and another undecided location in Central Brooklyn 2013, after winning a grant from the New York City Economic Development Corporation to build a culinary incubator with classes and professional facilities for the culinary arts.

"The demand for what we offer has dictated the growth," said Koopmans, but added that the monthly membership (rather than only annual) has probably helped make the place more accessible.

"There's nothing like 3rd Ward and I'm so happy to be a part of it, to be able to directly interact with so many people doing creative things," said Koopmans, who studied creative writing and photography at Bennington College in Vermont.

This Saturday's barbecue will offer food for purchase from Rucola Brooklyn, which is partnering with local vendors including Brooklyn Cured Sausages and Four & Twenty Blackbird Pies.

Free activities include workshops — in bike mechanics, sewing, woodworking, and electronics — to give people a taste of 3rd Ward's classes.

The event, which runs from 2 to 8 p.m., will also feature live comedy by the Upright Citizens Brigade, short films, and music acts including the Stumblebums Brass Band, Off the Record featuring Dan Neustadt, My Favorite Mixtape, and the Self Portrait Project.

Guests are asked to RSVP on the website.