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ARTs East New York celebrates its new space

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On Thursday, April 21, ARTs East New York (AENY) celebrated a sparkling and expanded new home. Community activists, electeds including Council Member Laurie Cumbo, and developer Martin Dunn cut the ribbon for the new headquarters, community space and art gallery at Livonia Commons.

Located at the corner of Livonia and Williams avenues in East New York, AENY is just blocks from the L train stop. ARTs East New York is no longer a fledgling cultural organization.

AENY was previously based on Hegeman Ave. In the works for two and a half years, the expanded arts center was part of the affordable housing development plan.

Founding Director Catherine Green speaks of the organization’s growth, “In our newest venue, ARTs East New York, in its seventh year will be able to serve thousands more artists and residents alike as a hub of culture and change for the community of East New York, Brooklyn.”

Growing up, Green learned how arts in the face of adversity gave voice to actions. These seeds were planted in her soul. Never did she imagine these lessons would birth an institution.

AENY has diverse programs targeting youth and adults. The ARTs East New York program Baboba Tree Convenings provides free, year-round offerings in theatre, dance, spoken word, film / video screenings and live sound / music.

Panel discussions, artist and entrepreneur networking parties (Wine, Cheese, and Chats), art creation parties (Paint & Sips), rotating solo and group exhibitions (Installationz) and a community resource center rounds out AENY’s programming.

“We have more public art and beautification programs along with our children and youth classes — Saturday and after-school,” says Green, of the growth of AENY programming.

One of the recent new initiatives, reNewLots, recycled two shipping containers into four studio spaces and storefronts for local entrepreneurs (home décor and clothing).

Eva Gordon, coordinator for Community Coalition of East New York, refers several families to AENY’s after-school and summer programs. “ARTs East New York provides an outlet for the community to express themselves through the arts, spoken word, poetry, painting and murals and African dance,” she says, emphasizing how the programs allow children and families to “revitalize the community in their own way.” For more program info: www.artseastny.org.

On the inaugural day, music, poetry and dance kept things lively in the community room, which doubles as a dance studio. Activities included a drumming class with Nubian Messengers, spoken word performances with Green Earth Poets Café, and a salsa class with Pure Elements.

The art gallery’s first exhibit, the multi-media “Metamorpho­sis” was organized in conjunction with Brooklyn Fashion Weekend. A photo and video documentation exploring identity of students’ work from East New York Family Academy and PS 158 is also on display.

Looking forward, there’s much coming in the summer. For kids, there is a summer camp.

For the family, Saturdays throughout July and August will again bring world performing artists to Summer Saturdaze at 613 New Lots Ave. And in the early evenings, programs will take place in Success Garden at 535 Livonia Ave.

The Arts East New York University for adults and teens offer unusual opportunities for local artists and for students, chances to explore community issues with youth, nationally and internationally. Over the summer selected youth are chosen to install public art projects abroad.

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