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BEAT Festival Keeps Artistic Talent in Brooklyn

Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater perform throughout the borough in September.

A new festival is looking to fill the void in venues for budding Brooklyn artists.

The Brooklyn Emerging Artists in Theater Festival, which debuts on September 12 and runs for twelve days, will feature thirteen cutting edge performers and showcase their talents in seven venues throughout Brooklyn.

BEAT Festival Artistic Director Stephen Shelley said “when it comes to performance arts, Brooklyn is, and has always been, the birthplace of innovation…Brooklyn is home to a thriving and diverse performing arts community, but there is no outlet for the borough’s emerging performing artists to be seen, enjoyed and discovered.”

Shelley noted that the talent selected for the festival have performed around the world and BEAT is “bringing them home, where they live and create...diverse acts to a diverse audience in every corner of the borough, accessible to everyone.”

The opening performance will be held at the in Fort Greene. Its Executive Director Terry Greiss was approached by Shelley seven months ago and believes there is a “natural fit between Irondale and BEAT. The reason for opening the theatre was to support emerging artists in the area…art is a vital commodity for the community.”

He stressed that the lack of performance space for emerging talent is detrimental and a festival like BEAT gives artists a stage to perform on that isn’t an apartment living room. Shelley noted that the venues selected have a “synergetic mission with BEAT” because they serve to strengthen the community.

Linda Johnson, head of the Brooklyn Public Library, said the festival and library “share goals and ideals….making culture accessible to all Brooklyn residents, bringing community together, and serving the needs of an evolving Brooklyn.”

She added that Brooklyn is a “destination for world class culture…[and BEAT] is an opportunity to identify and nurture emerging talent.”

The in Grand Army Plaza will showcase Elevator Repair Service for three nights in September. The group, whose tickets usually sell for $200, will be presenting their new work “Shuffle.”

“No one will be excluded due to cost,” emphasized Shelley who began his post-college career for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as well as with Matt Mitler, artistic director of Dzieci, one of the ensembles participating in the BEAT Festival.

New York City’s Youth Poet Laureate and Bed-Stuy native Ish Islam performed his spoken word piece “Clifton” at the press conference, describing the block he grew up on. His collection of poems comes out in November, and until then he hopes BEAT will encourage more people to see shows.

Brooklyn artist Lemon Andersen is positive that BEAT will encourage “a lot of people who don’t normally see theatre to go see art.”

Councilmember Letitia James stressed that Brooklyn has many “individuals yearning to be discovered…BEAT will reach out to the [young artists].”

“There is something about Brooklyn that makes you want to tell a story,” Shelley said. “We’ll begin ours in September.” 

For a comprehensive list of artists and venues visit BEAT’s website.

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