Youth Arts Academy Renovations

Brooklyn, New York

Desired Services
Facilities Needs Assessment,Building & Space Identification,Interior Design & Brand Integration,Facilities Renovation

Project Description

The nation's first community development corporation, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation is embarking on a major renovation of its Youth Arts Academy facilities in order to make optimal use of space and better serve our students, teachers, and resident artists. The building, located at 247 Herkimer Street, is a two-story structure spanning 10,000 square feet and consisting of 4 dance studios, 6 offices, a visual arts room, a music room, a learning center, 4 bathrooms, and a lobby. Now over forty years old, the building struggles with deferred maintenance issues and an outdated layout. While the number of students and artists using the space has steadily increased over time, the building and layout itself has remained essentially unchanged. Restoration is looking for experienced firms to create a master plan or schematic which would serve as a blueprint for renovations moving forward.

Located in Restoration Plaza at the geographic heart of Bedford Stuyvesant, the building provides training and rehearsal space for Restoration's Youth Arts Academy and resident art organizations the Noel Pointer School of Music, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus Annex, and professional dance companies such as Balance Dance Company and Evidence Dance Theatre participating in Restoration's ChoreoQuest program. Collectively, some 525 youth are served at the facility annually in addition to professional dancers, artists and instructors who also use the space.

The Youth Arts Academy (YAA) was founded in 1998 to improve the lives of at-risk youth and foster healthy development, self-confidence, and creativity through the arts. Today YAA provides a broad range of quality arts instruction for students during out-of-school time. Classes take place October through June through two 16-week semesters. Instruction includes beginner through intermediate ballet, African drumming, African dance, hip-hop, praise, jazz, tap and basic acting; as well as advanced classes in ballet and Horton. Creative movement is also offered to children aged 3 - 4. In addition to these general classes, a pre-professional program is provided for youth interested in pursuing a career in dance.

Restoration's Residency program provides space to small arts and cultural organizations whose offerings and mission complement our own. Through the ChoreoQuest program, professional dance companies, Balance Dance Theatre and Evidence Dance Company provide master classes, hold open rehearsals, lecture demonstrations and mentor Youth Arts Academy dance students. Music resident for the past three years, The Noel Pointer Foundation (NPF) perfectly complements YAA's youth arts instruction by providing training in musical theory and stringed instruments using curriculum based on New York State Learning Standards and the New York City Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Arts. Finally, Restoration welcomed its newest resident last year, the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Youth Chorus (BYC). Marking its first ever music annex, the BYC is providing its patented music training in voice to youth aged 7-9 years old from October through June.

In order to fully utilize the artistic assets of Restoration's Center for Arts & Culture and deepen the impact we have on our students, we have embarked upon a major renovation of YAA's rehearsal and training spaces. The long term benefits of the renovations are numerous. With improved classroom and training space, we hope to maximize the use of our facilities, making it available for daytime, evening and weekend classes year-round. This will allow us to build off our current programming as well as accommodate additional students. The renovations will also increase revenues generated by the facilities in the long term as other non- profit art organizations such as the Noel Pointer Foundation, make use of the facilities. The first phase of the project has been completed: a new HVAC system was installed in fiscal year 2008 funded by the Charles Hayden Foundation and Hyde & Watson Foundation. In Fiscal year 2010, the Ronald McDonald House Charities funded new sprung flooring in Studio D for our dance students. More recently, with funding from the Department of Health, we also redesigned the building's stairwell this year, making it more visible and attractive as part of efforts to encourage stair-use and physical activity. As part of the next phase, we plan on renovating the restrooms and showers, redesigning the entrance and lobby area to increase its visibility, and upgrading the building's common areas to improve flow and the overall experience of our visitors. Lastly, the final stage will entail soundproofing of ceilings and walls and the upgrading of the remaining studios with proper flooring, ballet barres, and mirrors.

The ultimate goal of renovations is to provide our students with professional working space complete with specialized lighting, sound-proofing, sprung floors and a layout suitable to a pre-professional level arts education center. We hope to make the facilities more accessible and user friendly for our students as well as the other visiting arts organizations and dance companies that use our facilities.

Renovations to the Youth Arts Academy facilities are part of a broader plan to redesign Restoration Plaza. The multi-phase redesign has been underway since 2006. Completion of the Plaza's West Wing includes the latest in energy efficient upgrades, new outdoor public green-space, and a glass Wall of Fame showcasing local heroes and civic leaders. Notably, Restoration Plaza was honored as runner-up Real Estate QLICI of the Year by Novogradac Community Development Foundation for its well executed vision, measurable community impact, and commitment to bringing more people to the economic mainstream.