BROOKLYN — More movie theaters at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, recycled rainwater at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a terrace-turned-dance studio at the Mark Morris Dance Center are just three of eight projects coming soon to Brooklyn’s cultural district and “museum row,” funded by the city’s capital budget next year.
The funds are part of more than $131 million the city set aside in 2015 to help private organizations make improvements and build new facilities.
City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, who allotted a portion of her capital funds to help bring about the $22 million devoted to District 35, where the eight new projects are located, said she’s glad there’s more money available in the budget this year to help the arts community.
“For me, in so many ways, the cultural world gave birth to me and really gave me all the encouragement in my life to be here today,” Cumbo said at a Monday press conference about the new funding.
She added that capital funding for her district went up by more than $2 million compared to the budget of her predecessor, Letitia James.
CHECK OUT THE MAP OF PROJECTS THAT WERE FUNDED IN COUNCIL DISTRICT 35:
► Brooklyn Botanic Garden | $5.3 million in funding for water conservation project
To better capture rainwater to water its plants, the BBG plans to build a new brook and water garden on the south side of the green space that will collect stormwater from the complex’s new visitor center, which was completed in 2012. Other than reducing water consumption, a spokeswoman from the garden said the project will include “mechanisms to prevent flooding” in the event of a larger storm like Hurricane Sandy.
► Brooklyn Academy of Music | $5 million in funding for new theaters and archive
As part of the planned “BAM South” tower development, the performing arts organization plans to build a permanent space for BAM’s archives, which has documents that date back to the Civil War, said its CFO Keith Stubblefield. It will also add four cinemas inside the 17,000-square-foot space. “We're going to basically double our cinema capacity,” Stubblefield said. The project is only partially funded by the city’s capital money, which will help complete the design phase, he said.
► Brooklyn Museum | $4.4 million for new education space
The museum will use the city’s funds to help pay for a “multi-purpose space” meant for education for teens and young people who visit the museum, according to a spokeswoman. She said the museum’s staff is still working out the details of the project, which will not start being built “for a couple of years.”
Arnold Lehman, the museum’s director, said the funding is “further proof" of Cumbo's "dedication to arts and culture organizations in her district and Brooklyn as a whole.”
► Museum of the Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) | $2.8 million for new building
Combined with funding allocations from previous years from Letitia James and the state, MoCADA is planning to find a fresh space, either in a new building or inside “one of the larger new building projects currently planned for the neighborhood,” said MoCADA’s executive director James Bartlett. He said the museum is currently reviewing several possibilities.
Cumbo took some heat earlier this summer for contributing more than $1 million from her capital budget to MoCADA after critics called it a conflict of interest since she founded the museum in 1999. Cumbo defended her contributions on Monday and emphasized that she stopped working with the museum before running for the City Council.
“I have ties to almost every cultural group in New York City, so to say that they unilaterally shouldn’t be funded, or that I should not participate in that, would mean that I, as well as those institutions, would be a victim of my success,” she said.
► 651 ARTS | $2.1 million
Though the multi-disciplinary arts organization 651 ARTS has been around for 25 years, the group has never had its own space, instead renting studios and working in offices at BAM’s Harvey Theater, according to executive director Shay Wafer. But thanks in part to the city’s capital funding, the group will get one floor — about 12,000 square feet — of the upcoming “BAM South” tower development on Ashland Place and Lafayette Avenue. The new location will have administrative offices, an education center and four studios, Wafer said. “For the first time, we’re going to have a home.”
► Brooklyn Navy Yard | $1.5 million
Though the city has earmarked $1.5 million for the Brooklyn Navy Yard in its 2015 budget, neither Cumbo’s office or a Navy Yard spokeswoman gave specific details about what the money will support, saying only that the funds will be used for upkeep of existing buildings. “From time to time, the Brooklyn Navy Yard receives city capital funds to ensure that buildings within the city-owned facility, including some that are of a historic nature, are well maintained. These funds fall into that category,” said David Ehrenberg, the president and CEO of BNYDC, in an email.
► Mark Morris Dance Center | $500,000 for new studio
After 13 years at its Fort Greene dance complex, Nancy Umanoff of the Mark Morris Dance Center said the place is “bursting at the seams” and is in desperate need of more space for classes, community events and performances. So one of its building’s terraces is being turned into a 1,100-square-foot studio with the help of the city’s funds. Work should be complete by September of 2015, Umanoff said.
► Prospect Park Alliance | $400,000 for Flatbush Avenue cleanup
Using the new city funds, the alliance will begin cleaning up the sidewalk, curb and park fence on the west side of Flatbush Avenue from Grand Army Plaza to the Prospect Park Zoo, said park administrator and president James Snow. The funds will help fix “everything from the curb to the park fence, which is in terrible condition,” he said. The Alliance is currently working on the design for the project, he said.