Brooklyn’s top cultural leaders gathered at Green-Wood Cemetery on Monday to celebrate the cemetery’s upcoming Welcoming and Education Center – and a handful of other city investments in long-awaited projects in some of the most major institutions in the borough.
“We are going to have the opportunity to have an education center right here at Green-Wood Cemetery so that hundreds of school groups can come here and learn so much more about the beautiful space and all the incredible history that is here.” said Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner and former Brooklyn Councilmember Laurie Cumbo.
The sprawling cemetery is receiving $4.5 million in capital funding, Cumbo announced, as part of a “historic” $127 million investment in the city’s arts and cultural centers. With $97 million in capital funding from the City Council and five Big Apple borough presidents and a $237 million expense allocation to the DCLA, the city funds more than 1,000 cultural organizations across the city. during this exercise.
“This is the largest capital and spending budget in New York City history, so we’re definitely making history,” Cumbo said at the August 1 press conference.
The funding is intended to help revitalize the borough’s cultural institutions as they continue to recover from the devastating financial impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
“As commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, [I] I am committed to ensuring that funding reaches every part of our city, all five boroughs,” Cumbo said. “We are all worthy of art, we are all worthy of cultural experiences.”
While the city’s cultural spaces often receive private donations, public funding is the engine that gives them the means to carry out necessary improvements and major projects, such as the new school building in Green-Wood.
“For those of us who run these big old institutions, they are old, they have infrastructure, they have plumbing, heating, lighting and construction, and there are all these investments,” Adrian said. Benepe, president and CEO of Brooklyn Botanic. Garden, which also receives capital funding from the city. “Donors like to invest in things, but they don’t like to invest in plumbing and heating, they don’t like to invest in roofs and that’s where the Cultural Affairs capital budget comes in. »
Green-Wood Chiefs are using their $4.5 million city funding to build a long-awaited Visitor and Education Center at the corner of 25th Street. The 20,000 square foot facility will be used to accommodate visitors to the 478-acre cemetery and will provide indoor educational space for guests and students, and will also allow cemetery programming to take place year-round.
“We have plenty of outdoor space as you can see. We don’t have indoor space, but we’re going to have it,” said Richard J. Moylan, chairman of Green-Wood Cemetery. “We are looking forward to starting in September.”
Moylan said the new center has been in the works for a decade and expects construction to take two years.
“We’ve been working on this for about a decade, and today is really the culmination,” he said, adding that when the project is complete, “we’ll have an interior space to tell the story. of our residents, the history of Brooklyn, the history of New York, the history of America.
The new facility will also help the cemetery stay on the cutting edge for the not-too-distant future when it doesn’t have the space to accommodate new eternal residents,” Moylan said. Instead, its leaders hope the center will continue Green-Wood’s mission to provide a space to showcase Brooklyn’s history, and that it will describe how Green-Wood became the historical landmark that so many city dwellers cherish.
“We’re running out of space for burials, so 20 years ago when we started thinking about it, we were thinking, ‘What will happen to space when we’re not burying dozens of people anymore? per day?'” Moylan said. “We don’t want it to be just 500 empty acres and it will allow us to tell our story of how this evolves.”
Of the city’s $4.5 million investment in one of the nation’s first rural cemeteries dating to 1838, $2 million was allocated by the city mayor’s office and $2.5 million additional by the city council. This brings the city’s total investment in the project to date to $13 million.
More Brooklyn Institutions to Receive Funding
A handful of other Brooklyn cultural stalwarts and institutions will benefit from the capital funding. The Brooklyn Botanical Garden is receiving $3 million, Benepe said Monday, which will be used to restore a crumbling section of the green space’s Osborne Garden, which was built in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration of the United States. New Deal era.
“We have a WPA section of the garden. WPA stands for the 1930s,” Benepe said. “It’s old, it’s literally falling. And this money will help us put it back together.
The Noel Pointer Foundation — a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that provides music lessons to underserved schools across the city — will use the money to renovate an old building in Cobble Hill into its own music academy.
“I was touched and grateful to the Mayor, Brooklyn Borough President, City Council and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs for their financial support to transform the fire station at 299 Degraw St. into a music academy so that we can continue to provide service to our youth and to this city of children so that we can bring the music you heard today to our borough, and to all five boroughs and around the world,” said Chinita J. Pointer, executive director of the Noel Pointer Foundation. and wife of the late Noel Pointer.
Other institutions receiving grants from the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs include the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the New York Aquarium at Coney Island, the Brooklyn Music School, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, the Pioneer Works Art Foundation, and the Brooklyn- Queens Conservatory of Music.
“Groups of all sizes and budgets benefit from this cultural budget,” Cumbo said.
The director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden said the cultural breath makes New York what it is.
“The wonderful thing about New York is that you don’t have to say, ‘Is there anything free and fun I can do tonight?’ What you think to yourself is, ‘Which of the many free and fun things should I do tonight?’ Benepe said, “And that’s only in New York and that’s only because we have a very vibrant cultural affairs department.”