Our fearless leader, Greeter of the day Joan Briller, has the uncanny ability to spot trends even while they’re happening. On a gorgeous April day, she proved that Downtown Brooklyn is becoming a cultural mecca that will amaze Greeters and visitors alike.
We started at the Barclay Center, the largest new building in Downtown Brooklyn. Before it even went up, a sign asked, “BROOKLYN, ARE YOU READY?” with true Brooklyn attitude. The center is home to the New York Nets Basketball team and is used for sporting events and entertainers. Barbra Streisand came home to Brooklyn to give a concert there. The rusted exterior of this sprawling Center harkens back to Brooklyn’s industrial past and is meant to portray Downtown Brooklyn as a workingman’s neighborhood.
Our next stop was the Richard B. Fisher Building of the Brooklyn Academy of Music. This 1928 brick landmark started life as home to the Salvation Army. Today the building boasts a newly designed 250-seat theatre for experimental pieces by emerging artists. There are seven renovated floors that include a rooftop terrace, offices and rehearsal space – all of which make magic for eager theatre audiences.
As we continued walking, we were drawn to a giant mural on the wall of the Mark Morris Dance Center. The mural’s sheer exuberance, a riot of bright colors, gives you a sense of the joy that awaits you inside. This bustling dance studio is all about heart. They offer discounted rates to non-profit dance companies and free weekly dance classes for children in Brooklyn public housing.
The Polonsky Theatre Troupe once led a vagabond life performing in various rental spaces. Now it has a permanent home between Fulton Street and Lafayette Avenue: THE POLONSKY SHAKESPEARE CENTER. Time Out magazine called this group “the city’s pre-eminent classical theatre troupe.”
Finally we made our way to BRIC HOUSE (Brooklyn Information and Culture.) The building is one-stop shopping for cultural experiences. It houses an art gallery, an Urban Glass store, a Ballroom, a Media Center with a TV studio, and The Hungry Ghost Café. Getting a taste of such culture was almost as delicious as the café’s ginger raspberry muffins or cheddar and black pepper biscuits!