When BRIC moved its multi-disciplinary arts activities into the former Strand Theater in Brooklyn in 1993, the building was bricked up and foreboding, with thousands of square feet that were unoccupied.
Now on Thursday, after years of making do in that building, the arts organization will reopen after a two-year renovation that will double its useable space to 40,000 square feet, and will bring BRIC’s contemporary art, performing arts and media programs under one roof for the first time since the organization’s founding in 1979.
BRIC’s Celebrate Brooklyn! Performing Arts Festival will continue at the Prospect Park Bandshell.
To celebrate the opening, BRIC is hosting three days of free programs starting Thursday including a block party, a concert by Burning Spear, and the opening of an art exhibition featuring 13 Brooklyn visual artists.
Designed by the architect Thomas Leeser, the 1919 Strand Theater will now have a street-level presence, a contemporary art gallery, flexible performance spaces, a glass-walled television studio, an artist studio, a public lobby with a cafe and a media broadcasting center.
“It’s intended for people to drop in and take in what they want to take in and hopefully really want to come back,” said Leslie G. Schultz, BRIC’s president. “We’ve been really spread out for two years,” she added. “Now we’re about to pull everything together.”
Kate D. Levin, New York’s cultural affairs commissioner, called the renovated building an “extraordinary community resource” and said it would allow “two vibrant cultural organizations to expand their operations and enhance programming for artists and audiences from across the five boroughs and beyond.”