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News + Views

St. Ann’s Warehouse Theater

By Lisa M. Collins

New development is coming to Tobacco Warehouse. But St. Ann's Warehouse theater may get left homeless.
Photo by Joshua Kristal

St. Ann’s Warehouse Theater in Dumbo has produced critically-acclaimed, edgy theater and performance art since 2001. Now its future is in doubt.

The theater‘s lease is up and Two Trees is developing the site, near the water and Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo, into condos (of course!). An agreement had been in the works between Two Trees, St. Ann’s and Brooklyn Bridge Park conservancy to move the theater into the Tobacco Warehouse space, across the street.

But according to an article in The New York Times, that deal is off. Community groups who’d protested the deal, saying that a more public process and more public use should get put into play for the lovely, historic Tobacco Warehouse space, won in court.

Now the future, and future location, of St. Ann’s Warehouse, is up in the air.

 

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Readers' Comments


Inger Yancey
June 12, 2011
1:10 AM

The Tobacco Warehouse had been used regularly by local school groups, dance troups, theatre groups, bands, non-profits like The Brooklyn Historic Society, as well as by Brooklyn Bridge Park itself, as the public space that it is. That is because The Tobacco Warehouse is an integral part of the park which contains it. The court ruled that it was illegal to usurp public parkland and give it to a private institution.

A piece of National Park Service land cannot just be given away without at least other options having been considered (they were not) and without the public having a say.

I love St. Ann’s Warehouse like anyone who has ever attended their brilliant theater offerings. I also love a lot of the artists who have been housed in Two Trees owned artists’ lofts in the neighborhood. Did anyone consider giving the Warehouse over to them, or any other needy arts organization Two Trees has forced out of their leases?

Don’t let sentimentality for St. Ann’s Warehouse sway you from seeing the truth. Public land belongs to the public. If it is given away to a private institution, the public will never have free access to it again. If St. Ann’s is worthy of such an unheard of offer of public land, there will surely be other opportunities available to the venerable cultural institution.

Elinor White
June 10, 2011
9:36 AM

We made a trip to New York from St. Louis expressly to see Brief Encounter at the St. Ann’s Warehouse, a unique experience we continue to savor. We closely follow what St. Ann’s is offering and hope to get back again soon. I can’t imagine a better use for the Tobacco Warehouse space than to house this excellent theatre group. I hope something can be worked out soon so the Dumbo neighborhood doesn’t lose this treasure.