The New York Times reports on the fact that arts group St. Ann’s Warehouse will most likely be without a home next May, when work begins on Two Trees’ Dock Street DUMBO project. The group had planned on moving to a renovated Tobacco Warehouse but that was ruled out after the BHA and others won a court decision to keep the facility as-is.
NYT: “Our vision was to turn the Brooklyn waterfront into a cultural center by transforming the Tobacco Warehouse into both a theater and a public arts space,” said Susan Feldman, artistic director of St. Ann’s. “It leaves us maybe having to leave Dumbo. Perhaps even leaving Brooklyn. None of us want that, but the theater we do at St. Ann’s doesn’t easily fit into pre-existing spaces that we’ve seen, and we want to continue to do that work.”
Ms. Feldman founded Arts at St. Ann’s in 1979 at a historic church site in Brooklyn Heights, then opened its current home in an old spice-milling factory in 2001. The owner of the space is now developing it, with plans to construct an apartment complex and a middle school. Well known as a blunt-speaking, strong-willed artistic programmer, Ms. Feldman did not self-edit at first in discussing the opposition to St. Ann’s plans.
“When we won approval to move into the Tobacco Warehouse, you had a few people in Brooklyn who felt such defeat and anger that they are now fighting all-out to keep this space as a ruin, an urban ruin,” Ms. Feldman said. After a pause, she spoke a bit more diplomatically: “Well, I know everyone is fighting for what they believe in. I can respect that. We’re just heartbroken. And a little desperate.”
Jim Walden, a lawyer for the Brooklyn Heights Association and others fighting to keep the Tobacco Warehouse as is, said the neighborhood groups admired the work of St. Ann’s and supported keeping the theater in Dumbo. At the same time, the groups wanted to maintain the Tobacco Warehouse as the kind of site that has featured photo and art exhibitions, hip-hop and food festivals, and even a memorable “Macbeth,” presented by St. Ann’s in 2008 on a two-story, roofless set.