ELM is a local grassroots youth program and movement dedicated to providing artistic outlets and economic opportunity to under-resourced youth of color while empowering them to become socially responsible leaders who are aware of the changes affecting them in their communities. It is a visual and performing arts program that serves as a home away from home for native-Brooklyn youth whose neighborhoods are rapidly changing, displacing not only families, but also after-school opportunities.
ELM’s home and headquarters for the past 5 years, The Silent Barn, will officially close its doors on April 30th. We are launching a $50,000 fundraiser to open a new space to house our youth program. This space will also work in partnership with Color Scenes, Bushwick Street Art, and The Lab Recording Studio to serve as an all-ages venue for the community. We are simultaneously working to secure temporary, donated spaces to finish our current semester through the June 16th Showcase.
Over the past five years, ELM has built powerful allyship with the DIY venue Silent Barn, slowly taking up more space—from the beginning when we hosted after-school classes for just two hours a week in the main space, to just last month, when we officially converted an entire garage in the back into Monster House. This clubhouse included a recording studio called The Lab, as well as spaces for instrument lessons, photo shoots, cyphers, and more.
It was never comfortable or easy to build inside the largely white, transplant-run DIY space that is Silent Barn, but against all odds it has become a headquarters for our whole team of mentors, artists, and youth to build and grow together. With the support of our community partners Color Scenes, Bushwick Vendors Market, and Bushwick Street Art—who share leadership with ELM and have always provided resources and income to help stabilize the program—we broke down barriers in Silent Barn, and were finally beginning to feel like it could be home.
So to learn that Silent Barn is shutting down in less than two months, closing its doors on April 30th, is beyond devastating. The disappointment is compounded by the fact that we’ve always had to operate under the looming threat of losing space to gentrification. But we also know that through this setback we will not only survive—we will thrive. ELM was founded in resistance to displacement, but has been kept alive by the resilience of our founder and teaching team—and above all by the resilience of our powerful, unstoppable young people.
It is because of our youth that we are diving directly into a massive fundraiser, beyond the scope of anything we've attempted before, to raise $50,000 by May 1st. We are dreaming wildly because we owe it to our youth, and because we will not let this program be without a space—a space that will be ours, that we cannot be pushed out of, with a long-term lease that protects us from the skyrocketing rents of our gentrifying neighborhood. We need to guarantee our youth security in a way that Silent Barn couldn’t, despite their best efforts and intentions. We need a real, sustainable home. And to achieve this, we need to build a base of long term members who sign up to give recurring donations so we can avoid the debilitating cycle of emergency crowdfunding.
With $50,000, we will open a new space for the youth program, one that will also function as an all-ages venue and event space in collaboration with its community partners Color Scenes, Bushwick Street Art, and The Lab Recording Studio. This amount will cover move-in costs including rent & deposits, maintenance and renovations to build the space out to our needs, commercial liability insurance, as well as storage of our equipment and supplies over the next few months while we find a new location. We aim to be secure enough to restart programming in the fall as scheduled, while we work to get the venue up and running.
This fundraiser is not ELM asking to be saved. This is us asking for a chance—a first chance—to do this the right way. This is us asking our communities and supporters, including the Silent Barn network, to take a leap with us, to help build a sustainable future.
We're ready to fly. Will you jump with us?