The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is America’s oldest continually operating performing arts center, opened in 1861 as a venue for concerts produced by the Philharmonic Society of Brooklyn. Its first venue, at 176-194 Montague Street in Brooklyn Heights, burned to the ground in 1903, allowing BAM to relocate to the then-fashionable Fort Greene neighborhood. It reopened in 1908 with a gala performance featuring Enrico Caruso, who famously made one of his last performances there years later, in 1921.
Declining in the years after World War II, BAM experienced a renaissance beginning in 1967 with the appointment of Harvey Lichtenstein as executive director, and is now recognized worldwide as one of the nation’s most important progressive cultural centers. BAM has featured the work of many of the world’s preeminent artists, musicians, actors, and filmmakers throughout its history, and also during its first century served as a prominent venue for public discourse; notable speakers have included Susan B. Anthony, Langston Hughes, Frank Lloyd Wright and Amelia Earhart.
Currently BAM features a huge array of programs aimed at all areas of the arts and public life; a selection includes BAMcinematek (featuring classic and modern film), BAMcafe Live (series of rock, jazz & world music concerts), a diverse Spring Season, the Next Wave Festival (featuring innovative dance, theatre, opera & more), and the self-explanatory BAMkids Film Festival and BAM Opera Festival. The Education program at the Brooklyn Academy of Music offers an array of opportunities including live performances for students and teachers, artistic residencies, professional development courses, a series devoted to “film literacy” in area youth, and a number of free after-school programs for students.
Brooklyn Academy of Music Information
- Venues: Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn; Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton St., Brooklyn
- Public Transportation: Very good (convenient to subway lines 2, 3, 4, 5, B, and Q at Atlantic Avenue; D, N, and R at Pacific Street; C at Lafayette Avenue; G at Fulton Street; and buses B25, B26, B38, B41, B45, B52, B54, B62, B67, and B103)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Performances/Programs: Programming includes theater, opera, dance, films, international theater, readings, hi-def transmissions of Met Opera performances, art exhibitions and festivals. Free live music at BAMcafé Live on Friday and Saturday nights. Some free community programs and events are also offered
- Ticket Prices: Vary based on program. $7–$10 Rush tickets for students (25 and under) and seniors are often available. Shows occasionally on Goldstar.com
- Group Discounts: Discounts for groups of 20 or more available for most performances
- Membership: BAM Cinema Club memberships start at $60 and include discounted admission, members-only screenings, invites to free BAMfan parties for people in their 20s and 30s, a 10% discount at BAMcafé, a 20% discount at Brownstone Books, special gym rates at Crunch, and discounts to local restaurants. Friends of Bam memberships start at $75 ($60 for seniors) and include advance sales, BAMfan parties, invites to working rehearsals, access to donor lounge, waived ticket handling fee, a ticket exchange discount, a 50% discount on Artist Talks, BAMbus discount, discounts at BAMcafé and Brownstone Books, special gym rates, and area restaurant discounts
- Educational/Community Outreach: BAM’s educational programs include a film literacy series, residencies and workshops and live performances for students.