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STooPS BedStuy Art Crawl brings public art performances to Brooklyn’s front door

STooPS BedStuy Art Crawl.
STooPS BedStuy Art Crawl.

STooPS BedStuy, an annual celebration of creativity in Brooklyn, returns to Bedford-Stuyvesant for an afternoon of dance, music, spoken word, theater, visual art, conversations, workshops and more on July 24, from 1-5pm. Stoops, especially in BedStuy, have historically been a space of gathering, visibility and celebration. STooPS is continuing the legacy of those spaces by expanding them into performance venues. Celebrating its eighth year, STooPS uses art as a catalyst for community building by fostering meaningful interactions between neighbors, artists, businesses, organizations and attendees. This is an all-ages, family-friendly event that includes a Kiddie Korner offering an array of youth-based arts activities. For those who are unable to attend in person, this year, STooPS is taking a hybrid approach, inviting the larger global community outside of BedStuy and NYC to join via livestream on Instagram Live and Zoom.

Hosted by America’s Next Top Model Winner Naima Mora,the current lineup includes dance by Kendra J. Ross and Cheri Stokes; theater performances by Dragonfly; music by Courtnie; spoken word and poetry from Kai Diata Giovanni; visual art from Mut’Sun; and workshops, readings and conversations from Akika Apothecary and Free Black Women’s Library.  

The annual event is a space where local artists can explore innovative, community-minded creative experimentation that opens up a dialogue with their neighbors. By presenting artists in unconventional performance spaces throughout the community, STooPS brings together different facets of the community that may not normally interact. Local artists partner with home and space owners to transform their front stoops into galleries and stages. Local business sponsors support the event and attendees are invited to patronize these small businesses. 

“While the event has become an anticipated mainstay of BedStuy summers, it has become even more important in the midst of the pandemic,” said Founder/Director Kendra J. Ross. “As many NYC performance venues remain closed, opportunities to experience the power of live art in our vibrant city have been limited. Since being outside has always been our model, we offer a premiere opportunity for folks to experience live art while still being socially distanced and safe.” 

In recent years, changes in demographics and economics have evolved the fabric of BedStuy. As new residents move into the community, gentrification is a large concern for those who have a family history and long-term investment in this neighborhood. A balancing act has occurred between embracing change while still maintaining the energy and traditions of BedStuy. STooPS builds on the unmistakable BedStuy identity and bridges the gap between BedStuy “then” and “now.” As any neighborhood evolves, it takes the effort of many to maintain and increase the cohesion of the community. By connecting over art, STooPS opens a dialogue for everyone in the community. When folks are no longer strangers, there is more accountability toward working together toward a welcoming and supportive community for all.

The 8th Annual STooPS BedStuy Art Crawl will be held on Saturday, July 24, from 1-5pm. This event is free to the public. For performance locations and full roster of participating artists, visit stoopsbedstuy.org. To register to attend in person or via livestream, RSVP at www.eventbrite.com/e/stoops-annual-art-crawl-2021-tickets-159912543723.

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