By Linda Collins Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The former Salvation Army building at 321 Ashland Place, directly behind the Brooklyn Academy of Music, was officially opened as BAM’s new Richard B. Fisher Building with a ribbon cutting on Friday.
Where once people talked about saving souls, there is now a 250-seat theater dedicated to performance and dance in a totally reconstructed building with a new taller addition behind it.
As Eagle news editor Raanan Geberer reported earlier this year, work on the $50 million structure began two years ago. Named the Judith and Alan Fishman Space, the new theater is made for small-scale performances because it can be configured for one to four rows of seats — or no seats — differing from BAM’s Peter J. Sharpe Building (which is what most people think of when they hear the word “BAM”) and the Harvey Theater.
These buildings, which were built during the last century for symphony, theater, ballet and other performances, typically attract large audiences, he noted.
BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins said at the time that several other spaces in the new building will also allow BAM to expand its educational outreach programs, such as spring-break and after-school workshops. In the past, she said, BAM has often had to rent space for these programs.
Architect Hugh Hardy noted that the presence of the new theater “will bring some light to this street. The Peter J. Sharpe Building, although it is a magnificent building, has no windows facing Ashland Place. And across the street you have the parking lot, which is also dark.”
According to Hopkins, the city paid $32 million toward the cost, $3 million came from the state, and $15 million from private donors.
Of the private donations, the largest, $10 million, came from the family of the late Richard B. Fisher, chairman of the BAM Endowment Trust and CEO of Morgan Stanley.
Hopkins stressed that in addition to being part of BAM, the new theater should be seen in the context of the evolving BAM Cultural District.
“Soon, you’ll be able to see all kinds of venues within five blocks, from this 250-seat theater to the 19,000-seat Barclays Center,” she said.
Among the other buildings within the cultural district are the James E. Davis 80 Arts Building at 80 Hanson Place; the Irondale Center for Theater, Education and Outreach within the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church; and the Theater for a New Audience, currently under construction.
September 11, 2012 - 4:59am