In 1910, the space at 1215 Fulton Street in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood opened first opened as the Regent Movie House, a one-screen cinema delighting audiences with a new and ever-more-powerful medium. In the 1970s, the space became the Slave Theater, founded by Judge John L. Pihllips as an important hub for community organizing and well-being and civil rights activism. After a decade of abandonment and disrepair and previous failed attempts at renovation, a number of offers have been made to buy the place and fix it up, including one to turn it into a performance space and hotel, one from a condo developer and one from a clothing retailer. The building will go up for auction in November.
One prospective buyer, who has not yet made an official offer but is mobilizing through Kickstarter, is Bed-Stuy-based New Brooklyn Theater, run by Jonathan Solari and Sarah Wolff. Like one of the developers, they would like to see the space return to a launchpad for community performances and gatherings, and that the historic charm of the venue remain intact. The proposal involves creating a three-space performing arts center, including a formal theatre, a black box stage and a café for spoken word and similar performances. The team is looking to raise enough for a down payment on the building, a hefty $200,000 (at time of writing, they're about 10% of the way there with 44 days to go). It's an ambitious fundraiser, to be sure, and the incentives range from tote bags to booking the theatre space for a private event. Watch the Kickstarter video below.