Without any warning, Brooklyn College suddenly shut down its Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts and fired all of the center’s full-time staff members during the first week of September. This shutdown consequently ended the “Brooklyn College Presents” performance series.
The full-time staff, which consisted of four people, was immediately fired after each staff member was called into a meeting with the dean of the college’s School of Visual, Media and Performing Arts, Maria Ann Conelli. They had no prior notice of this happening and were given a four-week severance package. Four other staff members were put on a part-time schedule that reduced the number of hours they worked and cut their pay to a quarter of what it originally was.
Ariha Ahmed, a sophomore at Brooklyn, said, “If it was going to shut down, staff should have been given at least a month’s notice to look for other jobs instead of being dumbstruck when told that they’re out of jobs all of a sudden.” She continued, “The whole situation is very messy and could have been taken care of in a better manner.”
The performing arts center was originally started as a nonprofit organization when it was founded in 1954. In July 2018, it became a part of Brooklyn College’s art school under the name BCBC / Brooklyn College Presents.
BCBC / Brooklyn College Presents gave performances and offered art programs throughout the years for children and adults of highly diverse communities found in Brooklyn. The goal was to offer these services at an affordable price compared with the theaters in Manhattan, which can come at a high price for the average person. BCBC’s performances and programs have reached over 70,000 people.
The college mentioned that the construction at Whitman Hall, which held the theater used by BCBC, would be delayed. The construction began in June 2017 and was only supposed to last a year, but it has been so delayed that the estimated end of the project is now predicted for spring 2019.
Conelli said that when Whitman Hall opens again, it will once again offer rentals and arts programs. The closure of the theater was cited as the reason for the firing of the staff in community newspaper Brooklyn Daily.
Hopefully with the theater’s reopening, stable jobs will once again be offered.
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