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LIC Arts Group Launches 'Buy a Brick' Fundraiser to Stay in Space

Local Project "Buy a Brick" Kickstarter
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Kickstarter/Local Project

HUNTERS POINT — A nonprofit arts organization is looking to save its Long Island City home, literally brick by brick.

Local Project is running an online campaign to raise enough rent money to stay in its current space at 11-27 44th Rd., rewarding those who donate with their name displayed in vinyl letters on a brick that's part of a "supporters' wall" inside the headquarters, among other tokens.

The "Buy a Brick" campaign launched last week with the goal of raising $6,100 to help cover rent and other fees, according to Local Project's director Carolina Penafiel.

The group ran another online fundraiser when it had to move last year from its previous location at 45-10 Davis St. That former space was in the same set of warehouses that housed 5Pointz, which is set to be demolished to make way for two high-rise apartment towers.

The move and the higher rent at their new place — they were paying $1,500 during their last year at 5Pointz, and now pay $2,600 — has made it difficult for Local Project to find its financial footing, according to Penafiel.

"We moved, and then it's just taking a little longer to get back on track. The transition hasn’t been that easy," she said. "We're re-starting ourselves."

Penafiel says the money from the fundraiser will keep the current site open, allowing them to get started on a long-term plan. The group is planning regular exhibits, video screenings, dinner talks, performance series, creative classes and workshops, and mentorships for new curators and artists.

"The services that we provide are very important for the community, and for the heart of New York," Penafiel said. "This is a space for everybody."

Local Project has been working with artists in Long Island City for 12 years.

"As Long Island City goes through its changes, and it becomes less an artists' area, it's all the more important to have organizations like Local Project," Jeffrey Leder, owner of the Jeffrey Leder Gallery, said in a video for the group's Kickstarter page.

So far, the campaign — which ends July 12 — has raised $1,697 of its $6,100 goal.

"We decided to stay in Long Island City knowing that it was going to be much more expensive, but it's our neighborhood," Penafiel said, adding that the project will only be funded if it reaches the target amount.

"It's not really an option for us to not make our goal," she said. "We have a lot of bricks, and if people can give anything, that would help."