Photo: NYC Parks / Daniel Avila
NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue yesterday joined State Senator Jabari Brisport, Assembly Member Stefani Zinerman, Council Member Chi Ossé, members of Community Board 3, and community members for an official ceremony to celebrate the reopening of the Von King Cultural Arts Center in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, which has undergone a nearly $7 million renovation. The newly renovated Center will offer programming focused on arts, culture, and education, and is completely free to use with a membership.
The improvements to the Center included a complete renovation of the Eubie Blake Theater, with all new seating, a new stage, light and sound booths, AV equipment, and wheelchair lifts. A brand new media lab will provide the community with free access to computers through open hours and programmed classes. All of the new features meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) design standards to ensure access for people of all abilities. Additionally, the building has been outfitted with a brand new HVAC and sprinkler system. The $6,995,000 project was made possible with $3,969,000 in funding from the City Council and a $3,026,000 allocation from the Mayor’s Office.
“We are so excited to celebrate the renovation and reimagining of the Herbert Von King Cultural Arts Center, a beloved institution serving the Bed-Stuy community,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue. “This facility has long served the community as a space to create, connect, and enjoy the arts, and these new upgrades will be a benefit for generations to come. As winter arrives, we are so glad that this indoor space is open for engaging – and free! – programming.”
“Our lives outside the home have become increasingly narrowed to places that exist for making or spending money — spaces that are inherently about commerce, not community. This revitalization of the Von King Park Cultural Center creates a fresh home for community and a thriving, shared space where we can come together.” said State Senator Jabari Brisport.
In celebration of the opening, Parks will also be hosting tours, offering classes, and showcasing performances at the center to engage the public throughout the weekend, including a mural workshop, a Family Dance Party, and an African Drum Performance. For more information and a full schedule of events, please see our website.
Since 1910, NYC Parks has provided the most affordable and extensive network of recreational services throughout New York City. NYC Parks’ 36 recreation centers offer indoor pools, weight rooms, basketball courts, media labs, dance studios, art studios, game rooms, libraries, and more. Earlier this month, Mayor Adams announced $7.1 million in funding to expand hours at nine recreation centers citywide to provide greater access to these important and heavily-used facilities.
All recreation centers also offer a range of programs for people of all ages. Recreation Center membership fees vary by location and age; all youth and young adult (under age 24) memberships are free. Von King Cultural Arts Center will be entirely free to use, but will require a membership card to enter. New Yorkers who are interested in getting a free membership to Von King Cultural Arts Center can do so in person at the Center. All current Recreation Center Memberships will also be valid at Von King.
Herbert Von King Park and the Cultural Arts Center are both named after Herbert Von King, an active community member of Bed-Stuy. Called the “Mayor of Bedford-Stuyvesant,” Von King served as a member of the local school board, Police Civilian Committee, and Magnolia Earth Tree Center. The park was one of the first parks in the history of Brooklyn, with the design by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux. The recreation center was originally built in 1973, housing an amphitheater, senior citizen and teen center, and the Eubie Blake Auditorium, which is named after the famed 20th century African American composer and musician of ragtime and jazz music, Eubie Blake. The park serves as a community hub in Bed-Stuy and hosts vibrant arts programming.