If you’re looking for live music, Brooklyn is the place to go.
And, as of June, musicians can now rock out in the unlikeliest of places in the borough -- in a rehearsal space above the Brooklyn Public Library’s Williamsburg branch's stacks.
“That was the big worry, having live music above the library,” said Paul Parkhill, executive director of Spaceworks, the nonprofit that works to connect artists with affordable work spaces, and the library's partner.
But the room, which includes a 100-year-old piano previously housed in the library below, is soundproof, and working well.
Since launching in June, the facility has gained in popularity with Brooklyn artists.
Last Wednesday, Annie Wang, a choreographer at Hyperspace Dance, ran a rehearsal with three of her dancers, preparing for a performance later this week at the 92nd Street Y.
“It turns out that this floor is pretty much exactly what we’re going to be dancing on, it’s a mini-tech rehearsal for us,” Wang said, adding she was paying $18 an hour for the space, and also books practice time at other Brooklyn dance studios.
“It can be [hard to secure rehearsal space … I’ve definitely been to some other places where it’s more manual, you have to call someone on the phone, you have to email them, they have to email you back, you have to email them again and sometimes those fall through … As soon as I knew when our performance was — three months ago — I started booking space. You can't get that last minute."
After Wang and her dancers wrapped up, Naomi Espinoza, 15, rehearsed her take on Lady Macbeth’s soliloquy for an upcoming performance with Brooklyn Poets, an organization that helps teens transpose Shakespeare to tell their own stories.
The top floor of the library, previously used as storage and offices, also has three studios for visual artists in residence, arts classroom and common areas. Spaceworks pays $20,000 a year under a 20-year licensing agreement, and the upgrades were funded by $650,000 from the Department of Cultural Affairs and private donors.
Spaceworks said many of the artists who use the practice spaces qualify for the $10 subsidized artist rate. Since the program is young, they are charging $6 half price per hour for the music room in August.
“Visual art space is hard, and that’s why we’re still in existence, to try to help remedy that,” said Tamara Greenfield, Spacework’s deputy director. “It’s difficult to get access any more, those spaces in Williamsburg are gone, Bushwick is turning over, and a lot of that space is very pricey now.”
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