In 2012, the Silent Barn entered a new phase of our ongoing project by moving into a massive three-story building at 603 Bushwick Avenue. From the start, we were aware of the risks that this building and our intended collective organizational structure presented, but we took on those challenges knowing that the resulting space would be unique and vital. Despite the incredible support we have received from our community, the financial and functional challenges of running a space on this scale have created an unsustainable environment with no realistic way forward.
The money we raised at the end of last year, for instance, was only enough to cover one month of rent, payroll, utilities, emergency repairs, bar stock, and other overdue expenses. At that time, we began a round-the-clock collective attempt at tightening our organizational structure and improving our long-term funding prospects, and tried our hardest to sustain long enough to see it through to the end of our ten year lease. But ultimately, the clock has run short. After a prolonged assessment of the financial realities of this project, the leaseholders have decided that the most responsible option left is to end operations at 603 Bushwick as of April 30, 2018. We plan to maintain our scheduled calendar of events through then.
Silent Barn is mostly known for our nightly shows, but our space is also home to artists-in-residence and studio tenants, and employs dozens of staff members—all of whom are now seeking new homes, workspaces, and jobs. The organization that will suffer the most due to our closing is Educated Little Monsters (ELM), a grassroots program that provides artistic outlets for youth of color and has met regularly in our space since 2014. We feel a particular sense of urgent responsibility in encouraging donations to ELM, whose music and arts programming serves kids of all ages, while centering involvement from Bushwick natives—those who were living here long before the Silent Barn opened, whose neighborhoods continue to be severely impacted by gentrification, and whose programs will now experience further displacement.