2021 was a breath of fresh air for Downtown Brooklyn as we enjoyed a year packed with events and public art at all of the neighborhood’s public spaces. Check out these highlights, and watch our wrap-up video – maybe you’re featured!
In February, we kicked off our Downtown Brooklyn Presents events series with a Lunar New Year’s celebration on Albee Square, featuring a lion dance, art exhibition, and fun activities to welcome the Year of the Ox.
For Women’s History Month, we celebrated with an event featuring a special performance by the New Orleans-inspired, all-women brass band, the Brass Queens. DJ Brina Payne set the musical mood for the event, and Brooklyn Book Bodega was on hand with free books focused on Women’s History.
In partnership with Van Alen Institute, we unveiled Ekene Ijeoma’s Breathing Pavilion, at The Plaza at 300 Ashland. The public art installation also hosted a weekly music series featuring solo instrumentalists.
April saw the return of the popular Downtown Brooklyn Car-Free Earth Day event, when Albee Square West becomes a pop-up park and space for kids to learn to ride bikes. On Albee Square, Artichoke Dance Company presented a work reflecting the Earth’s cycles, and 12-foot puppets by Theodora Skipitares roamed the plaza. DJ Bruce, of DJs for Climate Action, provided earth-friendly beats.
As part of the the Downtown Brooklyn + DUMBO Art Fund, Brooklyn Ballet and The Actors Fund Arts Center presented Culture Window @ The Jewelbox, a series of free performances featuring dance, music, and theater.
May’s warmer weather brought a chance to enjoy an al fresco drink and live music as part of Albee Square Happy Hours music series. On Thursday evenings, some of NYC’s best musicians performed, including the Freddy DeBoe Blues Band, King Solomon Hicks, The Hawkins Brothers, Dawn Drake, Charlie Burnham, Marika Hughes, Mimi & the Podd Brothers, Fred Thomas of the J.B.’s, and more.
Pride Month was celebrated with FagSigns’ Mobile Drag Unit, and performances under the auspices of the Downtown Brooklyn + DUMBO Art Fund. The June 19 performance at Albee Square featured drag artists Robyn Banks, Robin Fierce, Lola Michele Kiki, Hibiscus, DJ IVENCHY, and more.
Distanced Disco with Vinyl Nights had us shaking up Albee Square with the Mobile Mondays crew and friends dancing to all the hits that shaped NYC club culture – Funk + Soul, Disco, Hip-Hop, House, Latin and more, all spun on vinyl.
Summer was the perfect time for some outdoor fitness classes, and fan favorite, Dodge Y’s Natarsha McQueen, brought the hugely popular Zumba series to Brooklyn Commons and Willoughby Square Pop-Up Park.
August ushered in a new lunchtime music series at Willoughby Plaza that featured such artists as Jorge Glem + Cesar Orozco (Stringwise), Erica Mancini + Smokey Hormel, Noé Socha Duet, Dahlia Dumont, and the Yasser Tejeda Trio.
We also enjoyed the unveiling of Seeing Into Tomorrow, a public art installation in partnership with the Poetry Society of America and part of the Downtown Brooklyn + Dumbo Art Fund. Murals of haiku by writer – and former Brooklyn resident – Richard Wright were installed at 7 locations throughout the neighborhood.
In September we wrapped up our Funky Fridays series with Carnival on The Plaza at 300 Ashland in celebration of Caribbean culture.
Downtown Brooklyn Arts Festival 2021 saw four days of Brooklyn-based music, dance, theater, and literature. Highlights included a salsa dance party, BAMkids Family Day, a performance by Arturo O’Farrill and the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, and a closing dance party with festival favorites, Soul Summit.
We had a great turnout for October’s Willoughby Walks, where we closed down Willoughby and Pearl Streets to traffic and hosted pop-up dance, bubbles, live music, drawing classes, giant games, a Zumba class, and AstroTurf and furniture for lounging.
BKLYN BOO! BOOgie Wonderland! offered Halloween fun with a funky 70s twist, featuring Downtown Brooklyn’s house band, BOOgie Wonderland Elements. Other highlights included music by DJ Boogie Blind, a special appearance by Roller Boogie Bubble Girl, and a costume contest.
Visitors to Albee Square had the opportunity to commemorate the topping out of Brooklyn’s tallest building, The Brooklyn Tower, by signing the last steel I-beam to be placed atop of the building. Kids were invited to play with Legos, courtesy of Street Labs Build NYC, and tours were conducted of the historic Dime Savings Bank with Open House New York.
Artist Shervone Neckles’ BEACON honors the legacy of African American inventor Lewis H. Latimer (1848-1928) at Albee Square. The interactive steel and LED sculpture pays tribute to Latimer’s work on the carbon filament that made the electric light possible. The installation is part of the Downtown Brooklyn + DUMBO Art Fund.
Kicking off the holiday season in November, Downtown Brooklyn Gets Lit! created a magical wonderland of lights with illuminated stilt walkers, hula hoopers, jugglers, and more.
Rounding out the year, our friends at Mark Morris Dance Group provided a holiday party on The Plaza at 300 Ashland where MMDG dancers Domingo Estrada Jr. and Malik Q. William taught participants a dance from the company’s holiday favorite, The Hard Nut. Highlights also included a holiday sing-along and hot chocolate from Coffee Project NY.
All of us here at DBP look forward to seeing you all at more fun, free, and exciting activities and events in 2022!