The Brooklyn Cultural District exists as the cultural heart to one of the most diverse landscapes in the world. The area is a result of a 40-year joint effort by the city and local arts organizations. The revitalization began with Harvey Lichtenstein, former president of BAM, who revived the Majestic Theater in 1987 – since renamed the BAM Harvey in his honor. Today, the district draws from and adds to the rich history and vibrancy of downtown Brooklyn. The core area, situated in five city blocks near the Fort Greene neighborhood, expands across Downtown Brooklyn to encompass a mix of close to 70 cultural institutions, and countless residential, commercial, retail, and educational amenities. The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance (DBAA), and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership represent the Brooklyn Cultural District as members of GCDN.
The district is anchored by BAM’s historic 1908 Peter Jay Sharp Building, while seamlessly integrating new projects like BRIC Arts | Media House, the BAM Fisher Building, the Mark Morris Dance Center, Theatre for a New Audience’s Polonsky Shakespeare Center, and the forthcoming series of cultural spaces in a nearby mixed-used development, including the BAM Karen, featuring additional movie theaters and a home for BAM’s archives, and new homes for 651 ARTS and MoCADA
The district is a precedent for similar initiatives around the world that merge public steering with private investment. Affordable housing, flexible performance/rehearsal spaces, public plazas, and rooftop gardens are just a few examples of the amenities that bolster this community-conscious area.
Nearly 40 cultural groups within the Brooklyn Cultural District have formed the Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance (DBAA). Their goal is to connect and mobilize the cultural network while providing an effective voice to advocate for the arts community. In 2016, the DBAA and the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership released Culture Forward, a plan with recommendations for 13 initiatives to boost the impact culture can have on the area, ranging from the development of affordable artist studio space to fellowship programs with local colleges and universities.