After weeks of uncertainty about the future of Weeksville Heritage Center, the Department of Cultural Affairs announced on Friday that the Crown Heights institution will be welcomed into the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), thereby making it a permanent fixture in the city budget.
“Weeksville will become a member of the city’s Cultural Institutions Group, guaranteeing ongoing support for this vitally important organization dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of the free African-American community that thrived here,” the department stated.
The Department of Cultural Affairs currently provides funding to more than 200 cultural facilities citywide through subsidies and capital funding for renovations. Thirty-three of these institutions are part of the CIG, a 150-year-old private-partnership of cultural facilities that are permanently included in the city budget to help them meet basic security, maintenance, administration and energy costs.
In Brooklyn, there are currently five member institutions: the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Wildlife Conservation Society/ New York Aquarium and the Brooklyn Museum. Weeksville will now join them as the borough’s first black CIG.
The multidisciplinary museum in Crown Heights is dedicated to preserving the history of the 19th-century African-American community of Weeksville, the first community established by free black professionals in 1838. Nearly lost in the mid-20th-century, historians uncovered the site’s history and established the Weeksville Heritage Center in 1968, which has since kept this historic community’s past relevant and resonant for the community beyond Brooklyn’s borders.
“Weeksville is sacred African-American ground,” said City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, who gathered supporters of Weeksville at a rally last month to call on the city for help. “For generations, it served as a beacon of hope for those seeking refuge from the vestiges of slavery. Supporting Weeksville as a Cultural Institutions Group is a recognition of African-American longevity and a commitment from the city at large.”
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