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Barclays Center rep says Community Events program launched, but no details offered (+web site deletion)

This is the fourth of five articles based on the 1/24/17 Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park meeting. I previously wrote about the unclear timing of the project buildout, the role of Greenland, and the impact of exterior events.

At the meeting, I said that some two years ago community groups were selected for the ten low-cost community events at the Barclays Center promised in the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), but it didn't seem to have launched.

From DBNA web site 5/2/15: Arena Related
Programs" include "Community Events Program"
"It definitely launched," said Roland Guevara, Barclays Center VP for Community Relations, adding that it's been somewhat slow because it's tough to find space in a busy schedule.

How many such events, I asked, have been held?

"I don’t have the number offhand, but I’ll get the number," he responded. That didn't happen. I spoke to Guevara afterward and said I'd email him the next morning, which I did. I haven't heard back.

(The CBA says, on p. 31, "The Arena will be available to Community groups for at least ten (10) events per year, at a reasonable rate, with net proceeds from such events to be used to support non-profit community organizations." And the new owners of the arena operating company pledged in December 2015 to "continue to implement the portions of the Community Benefits Agreement and other community programs applicable to Barclays Center.")

The DBNA role

The reason for my curiosity and skepticism was that the Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance (DBNA), the CBA signatory with responsibility for overseeing the Community Events program, once listed the program on its web site (see above left) but no longer does (see below right).

From DBNA web site 1/26/17: no mention under "Arena
Related Programs" of "Community Events Program"
By May 2015, the DBNA said the 2014-15 application process had closed. (See screenshot below left.) That same message appeared in the February 2016 iteration of their web site.

Now it's gone, which suggests the program has stalled or halted.

Slow launch

Though the arena opened in September 2012, and the DBNA's distribution of free tickets to community groups began that year, the Community Events program took much longer to launch.

I wrote in March 2014 that the program was slated to launch, and later that year, community groups were chosen.

Organizations were invited to visit the arena to tour potential spaces, some larger and smaller. The DBNA was supposed to discuss with them the feasibility of and best location for events.

In a 1/28/16 article (no longer on the web) headlined "Rev. Herbert Daughtry: DBNA Component of Atlantic Yards’ CBA ‘Remains Intact,'" Our Time Press's Mary Alice Miller noted that the Community Events program seemed unclear:
Vira Jones, founder of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Museum of African Art, said her organization was selected via lottery to hold an event at Barclays Arena. “Then we were told to apply for a $5,000 grant,” said Jones. “I was turned down for the $5,000 grant.” Jones said she knows of one organization that got the $5,000 grant which would be used to pay for security during their Barclays event. “But, almost a year later, no one from Barclays has contacted the nonprofit about its event,” said Jones.
Indeed, the cost of required security and the use of the arena's designated caterer would add costs beyond a below-market rent.

Miller was unable to get a response from DBNA Executive Director Sharon Daughtry, a daughter of Rev. Daughtry. (Nor could I.)

A 2016 exchange, and a lingering question

Last year, following up on that Our Time Press report, I asked about the status of the Community Events program at an Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Community Update meeting 2/24/16.

"Ten groups were selected, unfortunately not a single one has had their events yet," responded Forest City Ratner spokeswoman Ashley Cotton, who also was speaking on behalf of the arena. She blamed "scheduling difficulties, a few mismatches in terms of understanding what was actually possible in the building."

She said arena officials had met with the Daughtrys and would meet again "to try to nail those down, and I hope to have success shortly." 

Since then, there's been no official announcement, and the information that has surfaced seems contradictory: the mention on the DBNA web site is gone, but Guevara said--without the update he promised--that the program has launched. If I learn more, I'll post an update.


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