Skip to main content

The demise of Brooklyn's free summer concerts: blame Adams? gentrification? or tighter corporate wallets?

Annual free summer concerts in Coney Island, the Seaside Concert Series, and in Central Brooklyn, the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series, have been canceled this year, as the Brooklyn Reporter first reported (citing Facebook posts).

It's been interesting to see the responses, with some blaming current Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who in 2014 succeeded long-running BP (and series progenitor) Marty Markowitz and a few blaming gentrification, with others noting some bad debts accumulated by the sponsors. (Others pointed out that there are still a good number of free concerts.)

I suspect the issue is also significantly financial, given the previously stated difficulty in raising funds from corporate sponsors wary of scrutiny. In other words, when such sponsors managed to curry favor with the Borough President with little backlash, it was easier.

The sponsors' statement on Facebook, and at Brooklyn Concerts:
After over thirty years of free concerts in the summer, the Seaside Summer Concert Series and the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series will not be presenting any shows in the 2017 season.
We wish to thank our many corporate and product sponsors who have generously funded these concert series over the years, many of them from the beginning.
Thank you to the City and State elected officials for their support.
Thank you to the bands who have performed, the crews that put it all together and to all of the volunteers. And a special thank you to the hundreds of thousands of audience members that have attended and enjoyed these wonderful shows.
Though the direct connection is unclear, the announcement came one day after the New York Daily News and New York Post reported the two series had been sued by American Express for $36,000 in unpaid fees.

The role of the BP

Adams, in a statement, told Bklyner:
“I am vigorously working to identify and secure an organizer that can make free performances happen this summer in our communities,” said Boro President Eric Adams in a statement. “As I have shared in the past, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President has no control over either concert series; they have been run by independent non-profit organizations that determined the number of shows each year and who would perform in those shows.”
That's a wee bit disingenous. Consider the press release, from July 2016 and excerpted at right, announcing Adams as host of the series.

As one Bklyner commenter put it sardonically:
Let me understand this. When they were free, they were the Borough President’s concerts. Now that they are no longer free or are no longer held, the Borough President has nothing to do with these concerts because they are run by independent non-profit corporations. Typical political double talk.
Well, especially with Markowitz, the nexus was pretty clear. As the New York Times reported in October 2011:
Besides Best of Brooklyn, the Markowitz groups are Camp Brooklyn, the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series and the Seaside Summer Concert Series. The charities do not pay Mr. Markowitz a salary, but all four have close ties to the borough president’s office, functioning almost as quasi-governmental units, the interviews and city records show.
Two of Mr. Markowitz’s aides work both in the borough president’s office and at the charities.
In May 2011, Bklyner reported:
“While the shows are in a slightly different location, tens of thousands of Brooklynites and all New Yorkers will still get the same high quality, free concerts on Thursday evenings this summer. Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council led by Speaker Quinn and Coney Island’s own Councilman Domenic Recchia were unwavering partners in our efforts to keep the concerts in Coney Island,” said a joint statement issued by Markowitz and Seaside Summer Concert Series Executive Director/Producer Debra Garcia.
A change in 2016

Last summer, the Ford Amphitheater opened for concerts in Coney, funded significantly by Markowitz's allocations. As I wrote, the summer concert season in Coney Island was both bigger and smaller than when Markowitz was in charge, though that's wasn't quite Adams's fault. The venue was bigger, but only three shows would offer 1,000 free tickets.

“When we call up these corporate entities and say, ‘Listen, we want these free concerts for the residents of Coney Island and Flatbush,’ they have already read stories and say, ‘We don’t want to donate to those anymore,’"Adams told the Brooklyn Paper, which said "Adams blamed overzealous good-government groups for creating a chilling affect among sponsors."

Oh sure, as I wrote. Good-government groups in New York City are not too strong. Maybe he meant federal prosecutors.

Comments from the public

It's a sign of what the public expects from borough presidents, the comments on Facebook for both Seaside and MLK. Some excerpts:

  • Sad news. I bet Marty Markowitz would have handled this differently.
  • We want Marty back...even with his non stop banter!!!
  • I went to these.for years.. sounds like classic city politics and $$. Bullshit ! This is about for profit cos muzzling in on.what WAS a terrific NYC tradition..Gone are days when our own Marty Markowitz would introduce superb FREE acts like Patti LaBelle, B-52's, Donna Summer, Liza Minnelli ! Alas.. a changing city ! Profits over community ! Hopefully we'll get a REAL political leadership that can advocate for the average New Yorker !!
  • The minute they built that amphitheater I knew the free concerts were gone. Saw so many bands there. It was awesome. Political Greed always gets in the way. Bring back Marty!!!!!!!
  • The dismantling and rebranding of my Brooklyn continues. :-(
  • These shows were phenomenal! Thanks Marty Markowitz for the memories: Toni Braxton, Babyface, The Leverts, Gladys Knight, Angela Winbush, Curtis Blow, Big Daddy Kane, The Manhattans and sooo many more great acts I was blessed to witness perform live there over the years. Other than that tragic night (I was there for that too) when Curtis Mayfield was paralyzed by a stage pole which fell on him during a storm, there was never any problems due to the well-respected Nation of Islam security detail. These shows don't appeal to the new Brooklyn demographic though, so I doubt they will ever be back in the same format. :-/
  • Politically this may harm Eric Adams. Marty Markowitz made it his business to be at each concert in Wingate Park every summer. He was a "hype man" of sorts and people loved him.
  • I knew the minute that arrogant lil peanut head dude was elected that it was going down the 
  • So Gentrification and The NEW People have found it Undesirable. That is why it is ending. Don't sugarcoat it or insult us.

Comments

  1. marty has held us down for 30+yrs and the here comes eric adams destroying everything marty built for our people and with him being a black man is suppose to be for the people, how do you think he got in ofc. us the people!!!! but it seems u just want the title and the paycheck but do nothing to earn it. I'd would love to have marty back he is for the people, I guess that's why you don't like him. we love him he was always available for the people

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For the people: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/25/nyregion/for-brooklyn-leader-marty-markowitz-mix-of-business-charity-and-power.html

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY. So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the ev…

Atlanta's Atlantic Yards moves ahead

First mentioned in April, the Atlantic Yards project in Atlanta is moving ahead--and has the potential to nudge Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn further down in Google searches.

According to a 5/30/17 press release, Hines and Invesco Real Estate Announce T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards:
Hines, the international real estate firm, and Invesco Real Estate, a global real estate investment manager, today announced a joint venture on behalf of one of Invesco Real Estate’s institutional clients to develop two progressive office projects in Atlanta totalling 700,000 square feet. T3 West Midtown will be a 200,000-square-foot heavy timber office development and Atlantic Yards will consist of 500,000 square feet of progressive office space in two buildings. Both projects are located on sites within Atlantic Station in the flourishing Midtown submarket.
Hines will work with Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture (HPA) as the design architect for both T3 West Midtown and Atlantic Yards. DLR Group will be t…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Not quite the pattern: Greenland selling development sites, not completed condos

Real Estate Weekly, reporting on trends in Chinese investment in New York City, on 11/18/15 quoted Jim Costello, a senior vice president at research firm Real Capital Analytics:
“They’re typically building high-end condos, build it and sell it. Capital return is in a few years. That’s something that is ingrained in the companies that have been coming here because that’s how they’ve grown in the last 35 years. It’s always been a development game for them. So they’re just repeating their business model here,” he said. When I read that last November, I didn't think it necessarily applied to Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, now 70% owned (outside of the Barclays Center and B2 modular apartment tower), by the Greenland Group, owned significantly by the Shanghai government.
A majority of the buildings will be rentals, some 100% market, some 100% affordable, and several--the last several built--are supposed to be 50% market/50% subsidized. (See tentative timetable below.)

Selling development …

For Atlantic Yards Quality of Life meeting Sept. 19, another bare-bones agenda (green wall?)

A message from Empire State Development (ESD) reminds us that the next Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park Quality of Life Meeting--which aims to update community members on construction and other issues--will be held:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017 @ 6 pm
Shirley Chisholm State Office Building
55 Hanson Place
1st Floor Conference Room
Brooklyn, NY 11217 The typically bare-bones, agenda, below, tells us nothing about the content of the presentation. One thing to look for is any hint of plans to start a new building on the southeast block of the project by the end of the year.

If not, ESD is supposed to re-evaluate a longstanding request from project neighbors to move back a giant wall encroaching on part of Dean Street between Carlton and Vanderbilt avenues. It's said to enclose construction activity, but, in recent months, has significantly served to protect worker parking.

Also, by the way, if you search for Atlantic Yards on Google or the ESD website, it leads to this page for the Atlantic Ya…