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Downtown Brooklyn Makes Strides to Maintain Its Artistic Identity

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Two neighborhood groups have announced an initiative that will help the new development-heavy neighborhood maintain its culture

In recent years, Downtown Brooklyn has gained recognition as the borough’s haven for tall, glassy towers. The neighborhood has welcomed 2,200 apartments since 2011, and 6,600 are now under construction. Another 7,000 are on the way. Now, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership and Downtown Brooklyn Arts Alliance are launching a new initiative to maintain the neighborhood’s identity as a haven for arts and culture amid all of its new development.

The plan, Culture Forward, lays out a series of actions and goals that will help the neighborhood remain a beacon of culture. Among its 13 initiatives, it calls for dormant city-owned property at 31 Lafayette Avenue and 334 Furman Street to be transformed into 30,000 square feet of artist studios. It also seeks an adjustment in current policy that will create more cultural space in existing public spaces and new developments.

Culture Forward will also lead to affordable housing seminars hosted by the Actors Fund that will help those in arts-related fields apply to affordable housing. Another core initiative will be a design competition for artistic markers that will help differentiate and identify cultural sites in the neighborhood.

"We’re not just clear-cutting a neighborhood and building a monument to culture," Andrew Kalish, the director of cultural development for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, told the Times. "We’re embracing the area’s past and enhancing it."