Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival Returns in 2021
A celebration of Brooklyn’s cultural institutions with four days of performances, classes, and tours
September 14, 2021
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is excited to announce the 2021 Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival (DBAF), the annual celebration of the Brooklyn Cultural District, showcasing acclaimed local arts organizations and artists, will take place from Wednesday, September 22 through Sunday, September 25. This year, DBAF features exciting programming, both virtual and in-person, with performances, classes, screenings, and exhibitions across the district, and a host of exciting free outdoor events at The Plaza at 300 Ashland, located at Flatbush and Lafayette Avenues.
The Plaza at 300 Ashland is one of the largest outdoor public spaces in Brooklyn for cultural activities, proving to be invaluable during the pandemic for performers. The 15,000 square foot space has hosted dozens of performances and rehearsals thanks to critical programming from Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.
“Downtown Brooklyn is a thriving cultural hub and every year, DBAF allows us to celebrate all of the creativity and talent our neighborhood has to offer,” said Regina Myer, President of Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. “This year’s festival is even more special after a year of limited opportunities for community celebration. With an exciting lineup of art, dance, performance and more, we’re proud to bring residents and visitors together to enjoy a diverse array of events from some of the city’s best artists and institutions.”
“We’re grateful to partner with the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership on their efforts programming The Plaza at 300 Ashland during the pandemic, which has saved many performers who didn’t have space to practice their craft during the pandemic,” said Kate Gavriel, Cultural Affairs Director at Two Trees Management Co. “The Plaza’s purpose is to support the community’s rich creative ethos so we’re thrilled for the return of this annual celebration of the neighborhood’s arts and culture scene.
Festival Highlights at The Plaza at 300 Ashland:
• Wednesday night kickoff salsa dance party with live music by Brooklyn-based singer and her band Maria Raquel Quintet, DJ John John Acevedo providing the classics, and a class led by Mark Morris Dance Center. Organizations from the Brooklyn Cultural District will be on site to engage the crowd.
• On Thursday night, artists who took part in the Downtown Brooklyn Rehearsal Residency Initiative will showcase the pieces they created and rehearsed, including the work of Senegalese traditional and contemporary dancer Babacar Top, and the original circus and comedy production Allez-OOPS! by Rob & Miss Jane, among others.
• Arturo O’Farrill and the 18-piece Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, who played together in person for the first time post-pandemic on The Plaza at 300 Ashland, return on Friday night for a full-scale performance with a special repertoire celebrating Hispanic Heritage month and Mexican Independence Day. This performance is a co-presentation with the Afro Latin Jazz Alliance.
• Saturday is BAMkids Family Day, with performances, interactive workshops, and local talent, including Lucy Kalantari & the Jazz Cats!, Feet of Rhythm Kids, Brooklyn United, and Brown Rice Family. Festivities are emceed by BAM teaching artists Kimani Fowlin and Farai Malianga.
• Saturday evening marks the end of DBAF with Downtown Brooklyn favorites, Soul Summit, spinning old-school house music on The Plaza.
Throughout The District:
• Mark Morris Dance Group performs its world premiere of Water and hosts a Dance with MMDG class for the public to learn Mark Morris choreography at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
• Artists Beatriz Castro, Project.KB, Hivewild, JKing Dance Company (JKDC), Jamel Gaines Creative Outlet, and The Knights take over the public spaces of the neighborhood with their open rehearsals as part of the DTBK Rehearsal Initiative.
• Irondale Ensemble Project invites the neighborhood to an Open House and 2021-22 Season Preview.
• Mark Morris Dance Center hosts multiple dance classes including Afro-Caribbean, ballet, contemporary, modern, and West African.
• LitFilm, Brooklyn Public Library’s popular film festival about writers returns with an exciting lineup of documentaries and films, highlighting some of the most influential and iconoclastic literary minds, jostling for their places in the ever-shifting canon.
• Karen Miranda-Rivadeneira: The mountain I am, Urku ñuka kani, is a composite video and musical instrument capturing the artist enacting alli kawsay, a Kichwa word for balanced living with the earth, is on view at BRIC.
• BAM converts the Fisher Center into a beach with Sun & Sea.
• Roulette presents JUNI ONE SET’s Boy mother / faceless bloom, a work in process that combines sculptural installation, video, music, and movement and Anna Webber celebrates the release of her double album Idiom with both her long-standing Simple Trio and the Idiom VI Large Ensemble.
• UrbanGlass presents solo exhibitions of artists, Carly Mandel and H Schenck.
Virtual Events Throughout the District:
• The award-winning poet and essayist, Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, joins The Center for Fiction to discuss the launch of her celebrated fiction debut The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois.
• Sandra Cisneros, the bestselling author of The House on Mango Street speaks about her new release and dual language novel, Martita, I Remember You / Martita, Te Recuerdo in this dual language event with The Center for Fiction.
• Leyya Tawil (ISSUE Project Room’s 2020 Suzanne Fiol Curatorial Fellow) presents Mirages/ FRKTL & Tarkamt, a program of sonic and visual illusory spaces.
• Brooklyn Navy Yard presents A Moment Materialized, an ongoing exhibition designed to provide a glimpse into this unique moment shaped by a global health pandemic, a national call for greater racial, social, and economic justice, and a very local and personalized response to living and working through COVID-19.
• The Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA) presents I AM, a virtual exhibition featuring works made by students from P.S. 375 and P.S. 316 in collaboration with their teaching artists, Kimberly Becoat and Olaronke Akinmowo, around the theme of Afrofuturism.
651 Arts, BAM, Bang on a Can, BOMB Magazine, BRIC, Brooklyn Ballet, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn Public Library, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, The Center for Fiction, Girl Be Heard, Irondale Ensemble Project, ISSUE Project Room, The Knights, Mark Morris Dance Group, MoCADA, New York Transit Museum, Reel Works, Roulette, Theater for a New Audience, UrbanGlass, with more to come.
The Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival is organized by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, with support from Two Trees Management Co. A complete schedule can be found here: http://www.dbartsfestival.org/
The Plaza at 300 Ashland Events
• Wednesday, September 22, 5:00pm
Salsa Dance Party
• Thursday, September 23, 6:00pm
Downtown Brooklyn Rehearsal Residency Initiative + Cultural District Performances
• Friday, September 24, 6:00pm
Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra
• Saturday, September 25
BAMkids Family Day, 10:00am-4:00pm
Soul Summit Dance Party, 5:00pm-8:00pm
About The Plaza at 300 Ashland
The Plaza at 300 Ashland is Downtown Brooklyn’s newest open public space in the heart of the Brooklyn Cultural District. In partnership with Two Trees Management Co, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership manages, programs, and maintains the plaza. In The plaza hosts Downtown Brooklyn Presents series, a calendar of free, high-quality activities and programming including film screenings, concerts, theater performances, dance & fitness classes, poetry readings, community gatherings, and more. These events are all free and open to public, with the goal of serving the community, the Downtown Brooklyn neighborhood, and NYC’s cultural community at large.
About Downtown Brooklyn Partnership
Downtown Brooklyn Partnership is a not-for-profit local development corporation that serves as the primary champion for Downtown Brooklyn as a world-class business, cultural, educational, residential, and retail destination. Working together with the three business improvement districts that it manages, the Partnership’s diverse activities include attracting new businesses and improving the environment for existing companies; facilitating the construction and maintenance of public spaces and streetscapes that promote an active and cohesive community; supporting and promoting Downtown Brooklyn’s cultural assets; and encouraging a unified sense of place and an engaged civic community.