Double Crossing Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum's hosting of Real Estate Summit draws protest from artists and anti-gentrification activists
Hence the cleverly-named "Double Crossing Brooklyn" protest, a play on the museum's recent "Crossing Brooklyn" exhibition, and the satirical description of real estate principals as pioneers in " for-profit creative placemaking." Protesters are crowdfunding to pay for signs and flyers, city permits, and props. Those involved include the Artist Studio Affordability Project and the Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network.
We feel that this event is using the very culture we create and support to endorse profit-driven investment.
The mission of the Brooklyn Museum is to “act as a bridge between the rich artistic heritage of world cultures … to serve its diverse public as a dynamic, innovative, and welcoming center for learning through the visual arts.” Yet the Real Estate Summit states it will teach attendees “how to create value in places like Crown Heights, Williamsburg, Park Slope, Downtown Brooklyn, where it seems values are already maxed out.” As artists, critics, and writers, we cannot let this happen without speaking up and joining all the residents of Brooklyn who oppose the Summit.
The African-American community of Crown Heights, which is the Museum's home, [AYR: well, next door to Prospect Heights] is in crisis, suffering daily displacements and tenant harassment. A mile or two away from the Museum, in Gowanus, over 300 artists just lost their studios in one building alone. Both of these examples are direct results of the tactics of the very people who are being welcomed by the Museum at this upcoming Summit.
As Clarke reported, Nikolai Fedak of the industry-boosting blog YIMBY (Yes In My Backyard), warned that “Change is a reality they’ll have to accept whether they like it or not.”
Art world coverage
See coverage in Hyperallergic, which also cited the open letter from artist and organizer Quinter, who cited rent pressures on herself and her neighbors, and also wrote:
Workshop presenters also ask, "What is the next Atlantic Yards?", invoking a notorious mega-development project most native to Brooklyn shudder to think of, rife as it was with lying and manipulation by developer Forest City Ratner and featuring ludicrous "affordable" units going to households earning more than $100,000 a year. With such a dearth of truly affordable housing, the last thing we need is another Atlantic Yards.
Reading over the title, I briefly thought it was some kind of fleeting, tokenistic gesture at social conscience. Like a human, I thought “retaining Brooklynites" might mean preserving the fabric of existing Brooklyn communities.
As it turns out, it concentrates on how to keep wealthy shoppers in the borough rather than going to Manhattan to satisfy their desire for boutique goods and services.
In a way, the Brooklyn Real Estate Summit does us a favor. It puts a face on something—“gentrification"—that gets talked about in a too-abstract way, as if it were some natural process. Gentrification is planned, and here you have its planners, set to gather in the museum's Great Hall and plot “The Next Stage in Brooklyn's Development." Literally.