It’s always a surprise, amidst constant news of arts funding getting slashed and education programs limited, to hear about something new, positive, and educationally-focused headed our way. Consider the BAM Richard B. Fisher building, a seven-story space on Ashland Place, off the Atlantic Avenue stop in Brooklyn, a sort of phoenix from the ashes, built with a certain idealism at heart that seems markedly absence from most discussions of the future of arts and education as they are relayed through the media.
The building, equipped with offices, classrooms, performance spaces, and fully-equipped small theaters, is an intimate, multi-purpose attempt at expanding BAM’s focus on education programs and concept-based performances. The larger, overarching goal is toward accessibility. That’s evidenced by the $20 flat fee for BAM’s prestigious Next Wave festival, which, starting this fall, will have a home in the Fisher building. The structure itself is an obvious labor of love by architect Hugh Hardy, the founding partner of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, and has been under construction since the spring of 2010. One of the larger performance spaces, the Judith and Alan Fishman space has a minimalistic interpretation of the Flatbush-Atlantic intersection grid built into its railing design, a distinguished touch for a building that strives to be one with its surroundings.
The building officially opens in September with the start of BAM’s 30th Next Wave festival. The inaugural performance, Eclipse, is described as a blend of choreography, art installation, and experimental cinema by choreographer Jonah Bokaer and visual artist Anthony McCall. Performances to follow include Nora Chipaumire’s character-driven dance piece Miriam, and the world premiere of artist Derrick Adams’ performance piece, The Channel.