12033090_10153261168174032_5150962805402568398_nSome might remember it as a “Summer of Discontent:”

From Sandra Bland to Freddie Gray; from Natasha McKenna to Walter Scott; from tennis star James Blake to 14-year-old Ahmed Mohamed— this past summer’s headlines were awash with stories of social and racial injustice.

Fall is around the corner. And while many in Central Brooklyn are hopeful that things will begin to finally cool down, at Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, things are only warming up:

BSRC’s Center for Arts and Culture has announced the opening of Project Protest: The Art of Revolution, an 8-week-long exhibit that showcases how art, in all of its multi-disciplinary forms, can disrupt, elucidate, fire up and ultimately transform a society’s direction.

Project Protest is an initiative in partnership with The New Press, The Billie Holiday Theatre and Rush Arts Gallery that brings together a unique symposium of renowned artists and thought leaders, each of whom take an unflinching look at how people and communities of African/Caribbean descent have responded to social injustice through protest.

Participating artists include Wendell Pierce, Sonia Sanchez, Sophia Ramos, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Danny Simmons, Terrence McKnight, Dr. Brenda Greene, John Amos and many more presenting music performances, visual art, film screenings, theatre productions, art salons and discussions that challenge our society’s notions of race, justice, class and equality, as it relates to Black lives.

(l to r): Poet and Author Sonia Sanchez; Actor and Activist Wendell Pierce; Hip Hop Artist and Pioneer Rakim
(l to r): Poet and Author Sonia Sanchez; Actor and Activist Wendell Pierce; Hip Hop Artist and Pioneer Rakim

It will be the first major collaboration of its kind brought to bear under the guidance and direction of the Center for Arts and Culture’s Executive Director Indira Etwaroo, who asserts, the timing could not have been better:

“While Bedford-Stuyvesant navigates rapid growth, we also navigate 33 percent of residents living in poverty, the highest percentage of adult prison admissions in Brooklyn, and one of the highest rates of stop-and-frisk in New York City,” said Etwaroo.

Indira Etwaroo, Excecutive Director of the Center for Arts & Culture at Restoration Plaza
Indira Etwaroo, Excecutive Director of the Center for Arts & Culture at Restoration Plaza

“So this is a moment for us to take a step back after almost 50 years of serving the community and figure out how do we maintain the highest level of relevancy with this community? How do we maintain the history in an authentic way but move it forward?

“It’s a wonderful moment for reimagining the Center for Arts and Culture. And we feel like the arts is the face of Restoration: Ronald K. Brown, Otto Neals, Wendell Pearce, these folks become ambassadors for how art can become a transformative conduit for individuals and communities.”

Project Protest will highlight three major movements of resistance, led by people of color, that effectively have challenged systemic and institutionalized injustice.

The first official event took place on Friday, September 18, in the Multipurpose Room at Restoration: a film screening, “TREASURE: From Tragedy to Trans Justice, Mapping a Detroit Story,” a film by Dream Hampton. The next event will take place on Thursday, September 24, in the outdoor plaza of Restoration Plaza, located at 1364 Fulton Street: a free screening of “Selma,” a film by Ava DuVernay.

Other events include:

Friday, September 25, 7:00pm: “The Art of Revolution: Power, Protest and Resistance,” the opening reception, taking place at the Skylight Gallery in Restoration Plaza. Free.

Sunday, September 27, 12:00pm: “The Winds in Reeds:” A book brunch with Wendell Pierce, Skylight Gallery in Restoration Plaza. Tickets are $40 and includes light brunch, mimosas and a complimentary book.

Wednesday, September 30, 7:00pm: “Between the World and Me:” A Book Club hosted by Dr. Brenda Greene, founder of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College; Skylight Gallery. The second meeting will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Free, but space is limited, so reserve your spot.

Saturday, October 10, 12:00pm: The kickoff of RestorationRocks, in partnership with Bed-Stuy Alive!, a block party and music performance on Fulton St. and Marcy Ave., featuring hip hop artist Rakim, Sophia Ramos, Kimberly Nichole and more!

Thursday, October 15, 8:00pm: The world premier theatrical presentation of “12 Angry Men,” launching the 2015/2016 theatre season of the Billie Holiday Theatre, preceded by a “Tell Us Your Story” audience discussion; taking place at the Kumble Theater, 1 University Place, Bklyn

Go to www.restorationart.org for the full line up and more information on these events and more, including a series of artists talks on Ferguson, “The Politics of Black Life,” and more. Hashtags: #ProjectProtest and #12AngryMen.

“The Center for Arts & Culture is ripe to lead a conversation on how communities of African and Caribbean descent have responded to social, educational and economic injustices and disparities through protests,” said Etwaroo. “Restoration has a legacy, so we’re not interested in forward movement without bringing our legacy along with us. That’s really important.

“To innovate minus the history is the easier task. To innovate and maintain the historical DNA is the more difficult task. And it’s a task that we’re up for.”

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