The Bushwick Starr Breaks Ground On Their New Theater

Friends and supporters came out to celebrate, including city and state representatives and community leaders who delivered heartfelt speeches.

By: Jun. 07, 2023
The Bushwick Starr Breaks Ground On Their New Theater

​On Friday, June 2nd, 2023 The Bushwick Starr held its Groundbreaking ceremony to mark the major moment of the start of construction on its permanent new home in Bushwick. Friends and supporters came out to celebrate, including city and state representatives and community leaders who delivered heartfelt speeches. Here are some highlights:

NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo said: "The Bushwick Starr embodies so much of what makes art, culture, and performing arts so integral to NYC. Their programming is rooted in an exciting, expansive, and inclusive idea of what artistry and creativity can be, and they do it with a complete commitment to their community. The City is proud to invest in the capital project getting underway, giving the Starr a permanent new home that will cast the theater's values in concrete. Permanent space is so important to long term sustainability for cultural groups in New York, and this project will expand space for artists, and open up the building to the community in a powerful way. Congratulations to Sue Kessler, Noel Allain, board chair David Ringer, and the whole 'all-Starr' team that drive this organization's work on this exciting milestone moment."

NYSCA Director Mara Manus said: “Developed with a singular vision and an independent spirit, the Bushwick Starr has become one of our great cultural treasures. This new, permanent venue will further the Bushwick Starr’s role as a dedicated, community-driven incubator for vibrant performances and experimental works. Furthermore, this thrilling evolution underscores the importance of capital project funding for the arts, as it builds our neighborhoods, invigorates our health, and grows our economies. This new space will be a gift for Bushwick, the State, and all who pass through its doors. “

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said: “As we celebrate the groundbreaking of the Bushwick Starr, we lay the foundation for an innovative artistic beacon that will illuminate and inspire artists and audiences for generations to come. The new venue will expand the theater's capacity to nurture emerging talents, foster community engagement, and push the boundaries of artistic expression in Brooklyn and beyond."

New York City Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chairs Winston Fisher, Partner at Fisher Brothers, and Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, City University of New York Chancellor said: "Today we sow the seeds of creative growth as we break ground for the Bushwick Starr Theater. The new venue will support emerging voices and established artists, enriching our cultural landscape and captivating audiences for years to come."

The Bushwick Starr Board Chair, David Ringer said: "The word groundbreaking refers to the construction project that will create a permanent home for this vibrant organization. But to me, groundbreaking also aptly describes the performances, art, and partnerships that make The Bushwick Starr one of Brooklyn’s and New York’s most important cultural institutions. The Starr is a place for queer stories; immigrant stories; Black, white, and Brown stories; neighborhood stories; fantasy; stories of youth, and age; music; dance; humor; faith; challenge; and affirmation. I believe that everything we do at the Starr seeks to break ground so that love and understanding may flourish—from our schools to our senior centers to our parks and our stages."

The new venue, slated to open in early 2024, will create an accessible cultural space for our community and an improved venue for artists and audiences. The Starr purchased a single-story 5000 sq ft warehouse at 419 Eldert Street in May 2021 and is working with award-winning architectural firm Bureau V Architecture (designer of Williamsburg Brooklyn’s non-profit music venue National Sawdust) to transform it into a cutting edge performing arts facility. The project is being managed by About the Work and the contractor is Richter + Ratner. Located just one block from the L train, the new Starr will become a permanent cultural asset for the neighborhood to which we’re dedicated.

At the new Starr, audiences will enjoy an expanded venue with improved access and comfort, while artists will benefit from larger, functional spaces on-site that support all the ways they work. 

The new venue will feature:

Street-level, open lobby with box office, hospitality station, seating area, and gallery (seasonal outdoor area for gatherings and events)
90 seat Blackbox with flexible configurations and cutting-edge equipment
Private rehearsal studio / multi-purpose facility
Dedicated scenic workshop, green room, office, meeting room, and storage spaces

Our new lobby will bring the Starr’s mission to the streets of Brooklyn. For the first time, passersby can freely enter throughout the day to an accessible space of community gathering - to interact with neighbors, find out what’s happening onstage and in classrooms, and enjoy the cultural life of Bushwick. Our garage door facade design will allow for events and festivals to spill out onto our sidewalk and charming cul-de-sac street. We’re excited to offer a new model for what a lobby space can be– a classroom, screening room, lively gathering space, quiet meeting space– a place where people always feel welcome to meet, mix, connect, and get inspired. 

We continue to run The Starr Campaign for a Permanent Home & Flourishing Future to support this big move. With a working goal of $10m, the Campaign encompasses a three-year scope from 2021-2024 to raise the funds necessary for security, sustainability, and growth. It is designed to support not only our space acquisition and construction project, but also strategic growth to take full advantage of this expansion. With major public investment from the City of New York ($2.59M) from the Mayor's Office, City Council, and Brooklyn Borough President's office through the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts ($900K), and New York State Empire State Development Corporation ($500K), and private funders including the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Booth Ferris Foundation, Dorothy Strelsin Foundation, Revada Foundation, and Prospect Hill Foundation among others, and hundreds of individual donors, we have so far raised $9.3M (93% to our goal). The Campaign website is:

The Starr’s Permanent Home was acquired with Matt Hopkins and Jane Brody of Vicus Partners with financing from The New York Pooled PRI Fund managed by SeaChange Capital Partners and LISC NY, legal services from Blank Rome LLP, Ken Gordon Esq., Stewart G. Einwohner, Esq., and guidance from Randi Berry and Paul Leibowitz of IndieSpace, and will be designed and constructed by architect Peter Zuspan of Bureau V and project managers About The Work. The Starr Campaign for a Permanent Home & Flourishing Future was developed with support from P.S.314 and Andy Hamingson & Associates.

The Bushwick Starr is an Obie Award winning non profit theater that presents an annual Season of new performance work. We are an organization defined by both our artists and our community, and since 2007, we have grown into a thriving theatrical venue, a vital neighborhood arts center, and a destination for exciting and engaging performance. We provide a springboard for emerging professional artists to make career-defining leaps, and we are a sanctuary where established performance companies come to experiment and innovate. We are also a neighborhood playhouse, serving our Bushwick, Brooklyn community's diverse artistic needs and impulses. Our past Seasons have included new work from groundbreaking artists such as Ryan J. Haddad, Whitney White, Jeremy O. Harris, Heather Christian, Diana Oh, The Mad Ones, Clare Barron, Daniel Fish, Haruna Lee, and the TEAM."


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