WE ARE BROOKLYN: A Community Block Party
WE ARE BROOKLYN: A Community Block Party
Building on the long-standing legacy of summer block parties in Brooklyn, the Intergenerational Community Arts Council (ICAC), a program of BRIC and University Settlement led by Artist-in-Residence Najee Omar, presents WE ARE BROOKLYN: A Community Block Party on Saturday, August 4, 2018, from 1pm to 5pm.
This arts-filled event transforms an everyday street into a summery celebration where neighbors can dance to live music and DJ sets; create collaborative artworks; access Fort Greene neighborhood cultural and social resources; participate in games, sports, and creative workshops; connect with one another; and celebrate the ICAC’s core values of passion, liberation, family, courage, vision and truthfulness.
The ICAC is a multigenerational team of residents working together to curate and produce values-driven arts programming by and for community members of the Ingersoll, Whitman, Farragut and Atlantic Terminal NYCHA Houses and the neighboring Fort Greene area. After meeting initially to clarify the goals, values, and the intended impacts of their arts programming, the ICAC planned its first major initiative: an open call for an artist who would work alongside the group on a public art initiative in the community. After carefully reviewing over 60 applications, the ICAC proudly brought on poet, performer, and educator Najee Omar as its first Artist-in-Residence. In Omar, ICAC selected an artist with superlative leadership expertise; a deep connection with the community; and a compelling vision for collaborating with residents and community members to create an artistic expression of the council’s core values. Since Omar’s residency was announced, he and the group have collaboratively planned WE ARE BROOKLYN.
Omar is an artist whose personal, artistic, pedagogic, and activist trajectories are all tightly interlaced. The Fort Greene-born interdisciplinary artist’s writing vividly reflects the surroundings in which he grew up, and community engaged arts practices are at the core of his work. Though he sees the potential good in neighborhood transformation and growth, Omar laments the fact that more often than not it’s done from the outside in, with a disregard for the desires and wellbeing of original residents, particularly working class and poor residents of color pushed further to the margins by gentrification. He says of WE ARE BROOKLYN, “it’s a reflection of the borough’s traditions of creativity, family, and fun--a vision for and by Brooklyn residents, and beyond.”
The day will include:
• Spoken-Word by Najee Omar and members of the Brooklyn Slam Team
• A community cypher led by Baba Israel with Soul Inscribed, featuring ICAC member Squala Orphan
• Community yoga
• Music by DJ FLY TY and DJ Reborn
• Dance classes, including an Afro-Haitian dance workshop
• Art-making activities including screen-printing, mural-making and wearable art
• Photobooth with Community Heroes
• Drumming, Double Dutch, street games and basketball challenges
• More activities and performers to be announced!
About the ICAC
The Intergenerational Community Arts Council (ICAC) is a joint program of BRIC and University Settlement. ICAC is designed to support NYCHA residents as central stakeholders and decision-makers in the artistic and cultural life of the community, and facilitate connections with neighbors, resources and local business outside the housing developments—ensuring Fort Greene and Downtown Brooklyn remain communities where both longtime and new residents of all income levels can live, work, create and belong. Through monthly planning workshops, the ICAC uses art-making, storytelling and discussion to identify shared values and goals, ideal structures, and criteria for successful arts programming in their community.
About Najee Omar
Najee Omar is a Brooklyn-based poet, performer, and educator. Omar uses the arts to engage and cultivate community. He is the recipient of fellowships from The Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop and Poetry Incubator for Emerging Poets. His selected features include Russell Simmons’ All Def Poetry, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and colleges and universities across the United States. Najee is the Founder, Executive Director of Spark House: an arts education organization dedicated to developing youth voice and promoting social/emotional well-being. As a teaching artist, he turns classrooms into stages by conducting poetry and performance workshops for inner city and high need youth in schools and juvenile justice facilities across the country. Najee is a 2018 Artist-in-Residence with the Intergenerational Community Arts Council and a New York Times Visionary.
BRIC is the leading presenter of free cultural programming in Brooklyn, and one of the largest in New York City. We present and incubate work by artists and media-makers who reflect the diversity that surrounds us. BRIC programs reach hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Our main venue, BRIC House, offers a public media center, a major contemporary art exhibition space, two performance spaces, a glass-walled TV studio, and artist work spaces.
Some of BRIC’s most acclaimed programs include the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival in Prospect Park; groundbreaking media initiatives, including BRIC TV, BRIC Radio, and Brooklyn Free Speech; and renowned contemporary art exhibitions. BRIC also offers education and community-building programs at BRIC House and throughout Brooklyn.