Bushwick's burgeoning arts scene takes it to the streets this weekend. For two days, the neighborhood's loft-dwelling artists will present music, performance art and dance on streetcorners and stages (and occasionally, in apartments) as part of the third annual SITE Festival.
If you come blinking out of the L train with no idea how to navigate blocks of warehouses, rest assured that there will be signs leading you towards the festival's 75 performances. You can also opt to follow the artists: from 1 to 9 P.M. on Saturday and Sunday, there will be performers in the gardens, on the sidewalks, and in the neighborhood's theatrical and studio spaces. In keeping with the neighborhood's media-savvy generation, for the first time the festival's organizers, Arts in Bushwick, will provide festival information via text message.
Festival organizer and founder of Arts in Bushwick Chloe Bass sees the festival as a way for artists to gain both performance opportunities and political representation. Bass decided to fight the reputation that artistic communities are "flighty" by having Arts in Bushwick participate in the local community board.
"Arts neighborhoods often don’t get the kind of financial support that would be required from developers, real estate agents or city government," she said. "It’s seen as something that is going to pass over." Bass says the city funds big institutions, and that Arts in Bushwick seeks recognition for the artistic community, albeit on a smaller level.
As the managing director of the Bushwick Starr, a performance venue participating in the festival, Sue Kessler sees SITE as the embodiment of Bushwick's grassroots aesthetic. "It feels very Bushwick," Kessler said. "The spirit of Bushwick is D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself) and it's all about all these artists making their work in the little dark corners, so it's a chance for anyone who wants to, to come out and do their work."
Admission for performances at the SITE festival is $5, a day pass is $10 and a weekend pass costs $15.