The inaugural cohort of "Window to Flatbush."
The inaugural cohort of "Window to Flatbush." Photo credit: Phyllis Huang / BK Reader

‘Window to Flatbush’ matches emerging media makers with a professional filmmaker and a branding company to make local businesses more vibrant and colorful.

The inaugural cohort of “Window to Flatbush.” Photo credit: Phyllis Huang / BK Reader

Flatbush Junction BID in partnership with BRIC celebrated the first graduating cohort of its new program “Window to Flatbush” on Friday. Launched earlier this year, the initiative matches emerging media makers with a professional filmmaker and a branding company to promote local businesses.

“We are trying to use art and design to create non-traditional ways to engage businesses, and to create an atmosphere whereby the businesses transform and start making money,” explained Kenneth Mbonu, executive director of Flatbush Junction BID.

The inaugural class consisted of twelve fellows, who were tasked to use their artistic skills to improve the exterior and interior of selected businesses on Flatbush Avenue, to make them more colorful and vibrant, and to help attract business. Equipped with video editing training from BRIC instructors, the fellows were required to document their projects with a 3-minute video on the small businesses they had been working on.

The ceremony started with congratulatory opening remarks from Kenneth Mbonu and Patrick Dougher, BRIC’s interim director of education. Then, the fellows presented their short films, explained their ideas and concepts, and answered to questions from local business owners and residents.

One of the participating local businesses, One Price Dry Cleaner. Photo credit: Phyllis Huang / BK Reader

The Junction BID’s new plan of using art to improve business seems to be a promising initiative. One of the participating local businesses, One Price Dry Cleaner, received improvements to both its facade and its interior. According to Mbonu, the effects of the overhaul are already tangible.

“The revenue of the business increased by 600 percent after [the renovation],” said Mbonu. “Previously they got, on average, two new customers each week. Now they get six more new customers.”

While the businesses benefitted from the artists’ hard, free work, the fellows also got something out of it, Mbonu explained.“Sometimes you need to give the artists something back for their continued support they offer to the small businesses. In this case, they learn the skill of video shooting and editing,” he said.

Upon completion of the program, not only are the fellows awarded video editing certificates, they will also be granted access to BRIC’s video editing facility to further their artistic endeavors.

Some of the fellows of Window to Flatbush. Photo credit: Phyllis Huang/ BK Reader

Christine Stoddard is one of those artists who is benefitting from BRIC’s support. Prior to entering the program, she has been producing a podcast for Brooklyn Free Speech Radio, a radio show on Brooklyn women who are dedicated to building better communities.

“Now that I have the video editing certificate, I can make videos to compliment my podcast and tell the stories of these incredible women,” Stoddard said happily.

The success of the first cohort is encouraging to Mbonu who is determined to keep “Window to Flatbush” running.

“Oh yes. We are going to have more classes,” he confirmed.

Interested artists can learn more about Window to Flatbush by contacting Yasmin Gur at yg.artbizfusion@gmail.com.

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