Con Edison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter, Issue No. 9

Con Edison Immigrant Artist Program Newsletter, Issue No. 9

Featured Organization: Chez Bushwick

NYFA Immigrant Artist Project sat down with Jonah Bokaer, Founding Director of Chez Bushwick, an artist-run organization dedicated to the advancement of interdisciplinary art and performance with a strong focus on new choreography.

Chez Bushwick is located in an industrial swath of the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, and it is best known for offering New York City’s only $5 subsidized rehearsal space (first come first served through a regular online booking system). But they do much more than simply rent out their space, producing their own programs and spearheading community development efforts…

How did Chez Bushwick come to be?

Bokaer, along with fellow founding artists Laura Dempster and Jeremy Wade, responded to Manhattan’s rapidly rising rehearsal space prices by crossing over to Brooklyn and opening Chez Bushwick in 2002. They decided on $5 as a fair and equitable rate to charge artists in need of the space. Renters come from all over the city, from around the corner to the far reaches of the Bronx and Queens, not to mention Manhattan.

What goes on there?

In addition to rehearsals, Chez Bushwick produces over 40 public programs a year, often filling the space to its 75 person capacity. These could be anything from Japanese knife dances and whirling dervishes to film screenings, experimental theater, youth programs, a monthly series of new works and an annual folk dance festival, coming next in fall of 2010.

What’s going on in the neighborhood?

Brooklyn, and especially Bushwick, has been changing at a frantic pace over the last decade, as it becomes a more desirable location for artists and, eventually, new transplants from the city’s wealthier strata. Recognizing that a community’s long-term value and local economy is often forsaken in this process of rapid gentrification, Chez Bushwick partnered with local businesses, residents, schools and arts organizations to found CAPITAL B(standing for Coalition of Art & Performance Initiatives Towards A Livable Bushwick), enlisting the coalition’s members in a collective effort to build upon existing resources to catalyze a vibrant and creative local economy.

How can you get involved?

You can visit Chez Bushwick’s website – – to find out more about rehearsal space rental, associated artists past and present, public events, an upcoming grant opportunity, and Chez Bushwick’s community base. Also, make sure to check out the space during Bushwick Open Studios, coming up on June 4th through 6th. 

Images: Top, A performance by Chez Bushwick. Photo: Michael Hart
Amy Aronoff
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