Historic Billie Holiday Theatre to Reopen Next Week
RestorationArt, the 21st century creative complex in Central Brooklyn, reopens the AUDELCO and Obie Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre that was founded in 1972 by Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, after completing its first major renovation in 45 years.
"A lot has changed since Restoration launched the theater in 1972 in the heat of the civil rights movement and severe urban disinvestment and, yet, so much has remained the same for so many of our community members, as we continue to grapple with issues of inequality." Dr. Indira Etwaroo, Executive Director, the Billie Holiday Theatre and RestorationArt. "For 45 years, The Billie Holiday Theatre stood at the crossroads of art, social justice and community development and will continue to be a safe space for creative expression and revolution".
In this banner year, which marks the 50th Anniversary of Restoration and the 45th Anniversary of the Billie Holiday Theatre and its reopening, RestorationArt inaugurates the Harry Belafonte Artist and Activist Achievement Award, which will be presented annually. This award is given to an artist who has used the arts in the pursuit of equity, social justice and excellence. The 2017 Inaugural Honorees are Marjorie Moon, Executive Director Emeritus, having led the Billie Holiday Theatre for over four decades, and Tony and Obie Award-winning actor and director, Ruben Santiago-Hudson.
"I offer my deepest gratitude to two leaders who have been in the ranks of those of us who understood the critical importance of the prophetic voice of the artist in a global sea of injustice and inequity;" said Harry Belafonte, Global humanitarian, artist and activist, "voices needed to claim our individual freedom, while helping others to claim theirs."
To honor the revolutionary ethos of its namesake, The Billie Holiday Theatre relaunches with the voices of Black women at the forefront through an opening weekend of events from Friday, May 12 through Monday, May 15, 2017, highlights of which include Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God directed by Tony Award-winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson, monologues of 50 Black women and girls between the ages of 6 and 83 years old from as far as Holland, Canada, Missouri and Georgia to as close as around the corner, curated by renowned playwright Dominique Morriseau, and a Brooklyn celebration of Lynn Nottage, the first woman to receive two Pulitzer Prizes in drama. Tickets are available at www.RestorationArt.org and www.TheBillieHoliday.org.
RestorationArt is leveraging the renovation of the Billie Holiday Theatre to expand its artistic footprint beyond primarily theater to present a dynamic hub of year-round activity with dance, music, talks, screenings and classes, while seeking the voices of the community's disenfranchised and folding them in with those of world-class artists to create new artistic works and community experiences.
The newly-completed renovation has equipped the 200-seat Billie Holiday Theatre with new lighting, stage rigging, audio and visual equipment; an extended stage to accommodate dance performances; and improved ADA accessibility.
"Our aim was to deliver to the community a performance space it can take pride in for generations to come, and which lived up to the legacy of the theatre's 45 years in the community," said NYC Department of Design and Construction Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. "We're very pleased to work with our partners to improve accessibility, visibility, and acoustics, to increase seating capacity, and to upgrade the audio, visual, fire protection and environmental systems. The jewel has been polished and returned to Bedford-Stuyvesant."
The Billie Holiday Theatre will be made available for rent by commercial and nonprofit groups, as well as community organizations.
SCHEDULE OF LAUNCH WEEK EVENTS
For more information and a full schedule of events, visit: www.restorationart.org.
Hashtags: #RestorationArt and #BHT
and The Billie Holiday Theatre are located at Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street (between New York Avenue and Brooklyn Avenue) in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York 11216. The new ground floor rehearsal studios are located at 247 Herkimer as part of Restoration Plaza (located adjacent to the celebrated Foodtown Grocery Store).
Subway: A, C to Nostrand Avenue; Long Island Railroad to Nostrand Avenue; B25 to Marcy Avenue and Fulton Street Stop; Commercial parking lot is located adjacent to 1368 Fulton Street.
The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie), founded in 1972 by Restoration, is an OBIE and Audelco Award-winning theater devoted to the discovery of world-class storytelling with a focus on stories for, by and about people of African descent with 2-3 major productions annually. The Billie presents, promotes and sustains art that reflects the definitive issues of our time in and through all of its forms of expression, especially drama, and including jazz, opera, ballet, film, poetry, and other forms of intellectual and instructive entertainment; to produce and stimulate performances or theatrical productions of all kinds with a focus on, but not limited to, the African American experience; and to commission and premiere original works.
RestorationArt (formerly branded The Center for Arts & Culture), the cultural centerpiece of Restoration, is a dynamic 21st century creative complex that is committed to folding our community into world-class artistic discovery and storytelling in dance, music, theater, visual arts and conversation in the epicenter of Black culture, Central Brooklyn. RestorationArt reaches a diverse audience of more than 40,000 annually through dance concerts and choreographic showcases, music festivals and salons, theater performances and a new works reading series, as well as talks & films; a Youth Arts Academy; the Skylight Gallery; institutions-in-residence, including the Billie Holiday Theatre, Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, Cumbe: The Center for African and Diaspora Dance, Noel Pointer School of Music and Brooklyn Youth Chorus Academy.
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (Restoration), the nation's first community development organization, partners with area residents and businesses to improve the quality of life in long-blighted areas of Central Brooklyn. Our goals are to attract investment, improve the business climate, foster the economic self-sufficiency of families, enhance family stability, and promote the arts and culture. Through these activities, we seek to spur resident's economic stability and transform Central Brooklyn into a safe, vibrant place to live, work and visit. Restoration was founded in 1967 with the bipartisan support of New York Senators Robert Kennedy, Jr. and Jacob Javits.