BRIC Chief Kristina Newman-Scott looks to offer free classes, TV programming during pandemic

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By 2015 she was the director of culture and historic preservation for the whole state. In the role, she pushed back against a view of art as an uneconomical sector, instead finding ways it could support both artists and the economy.

It’s hard to think of an institution whose purpose and specialties would be a better fit for Newman-Scott than BRIC. One of the foremost arts organizations in the city, its focus spans the visual and performing arts, modern media and education. The leading presenter of free programming in the borough, BRIC is expressly focused on increasing public access to the arts.

It’s a mission that easily could’ve been challenged by the pandemic. Many of BRIC’s peers are facing existential questions. Institutions from the Met to the Brooklyn Museum have had to lay off workers. But BRIC hasn’t, Newman-Scott said.

“We unfortunately have become, as members of the creative economy, accustomed to being the first hit and hardest hit,” she said. “When there are budget cuts, you often see arts on the front line.”

Drawing on her previous work in government, Newman-Scott has partnered with the city Department of Education to ensure BRIC provides educational TV programming. The center also has offered free classes to various constituencies. Small-business leaders, for example, can learn the basics of digital media design.

Newman-Scott also led the first-ever remote BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival. The virtual version of the event, typically held in Prospect Park, radically expanded its footprint, reaching 2.5 million people in more than 40 countries.

“All of those things are part of our day to day, but in this moment, it is important for our community to truly see us as a resource for them,” she said.

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