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    02.19.15 CUBE Hosts BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins
    Brooklyn Law School Center for Urban Business Entrepreneurship Brooklyn Academy of Music

    “BAM has had a glorious and difficult past, and I am sure that it will have a glorious and difficult future,” Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) President Brooks Hopkins told the audience at a networking event hosted by the Center for Urban Business and Entrepreneurship (CUBE) on February 18 at the Forchelli Conference Center. The event, “How BAM Became BAM! Innovation in the Cultural World,” featured Hopkins in conversation with Brooklyn Law School President and Dean Nick Allard. focusing on BAM’s emergence as a major cultural institution.

    Brooks Hopkins discussed her forthcoming retirement, her unique fundraising approach, BAM’s emergence as a major cultural institution and the significant role it has played in the “Brooklyn renaissance” of the last several years. She also shared some of her favorite memories over the course of her 36-year tenure.

    “We have spent the last 40 years creating a cultural district in the neighborhoods surrounding BAM,” Brooks Hopkins said. “And there have been ongoing conflicts for 40 years. Back then, it was a struggle getting people over the bridge and into the audience. Now, obviously, everything’s changed. They are no longer coming from over the bridge because they’re coming from around the corner, surrounding neighborhoods, everywhere in Brooklyn.”

    Despite BAM’s success, Brooks Hopkins said challenges still lie ahead.

    “The bad news, or potential bad news, is that real estate developers now eye Brooklyn neighborhoods as the logical destination to make a quick buck,” she said. “Being what they are, being who they are, they don’t look at the long-term value of the neighborhood. They’d rather opt to bring in any old chain store or chain restaurant that will bring in the largest earning right then and there.”

    She hopes BAM will continue to be a catalyst for the role of both a steward of the arts as well as an economic engine for the borough.

    “Culturally, Brooklyn – and by extension, BAM – has not only become the center of ‘our’ world, but the center of ‘the’ world,” she said. “So how do you continue to take advantage and harness all that opportunity?”

    On the lighter side, Allard asked Brooks Hopkins to name her favorite performers who appeared at BAM over the years. Initially, she was hesitant to name just one, but after some good-natured pressing by Allard, she fondly recounted stories about the time Robert Redford came to BAM.