Interview: City Announces $2 Million for Sesame Flyers’ Expansion and Renovation Project – The Organization’s First City-Funded Capital Project – and New Funding for Cultural Groups Across Brooklyn

Interview: City Announces $2 Million for Sesame Flyers’ Expansion and Renovation Project – The Organization’s First City-Funded Capital Project – and New Funding for Cultural Groups Across Brooklyn

Photos courtesy: Sesame Flyers

By NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) | October 16, 2023

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Brooklyn capital investments are part of over $222 Million in capital funding from the Mayor, City Council, and Borough Presidents for over 75 cultural groups across the city.

Renderings of Sesame Flyers’ planned renovation project along with photos and video from yesterday’s announcement are available here

Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo and Sesame Flyers Executive Director Curtis Nelson. Photo courtesy DCLA.

Brooklyn, NY – Yesterday, the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) Commissioner Laurie Cumbo joined community and cultural leaders from across Brooklyn to announce new capital investments being made in the borough’s cultural institutions in the City’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget. The announcement was made at Sesame Flyers, which received a total of $2 million for a major renovation and expansion of their facility in Flatbush. As part of an ongoing five borough tour, DCLA also highlighted new capital investments for cultural groups across Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Children’s Museum, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Artspace Projects, the Brooklyn Academy Music, the Brooklyn-Queens Conservatory of Music, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, New York Aquarium, Victory Music and Dance, Brooklyn Arts Council, Jack Arts, Jewish Children’s Museum, and Brooklyn Youth Chorus.

“Art and culture are at the heart of what makes our city great and gives it an energy like nowhere else on the globe,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “Sesame Flyers continues to offer New Yorkers the chance to access and discover authentic Caribbean culture. Our administration is proud to make a $1.5 million investment in the future of Sesame Flyers, and $117 Million in capital funding to invest in cultural groups across Brooklyn and all of New York City.”

“Our city is the dynamic, vibrant place it is thanks to our cultural organizations, and an investment in the cultural community is an investment in the economic and social vibrancy of New York City,” said Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer. “I’m proud of the Adams administration’s work with our partners in government to provide critical capital support for Brooklyn organizations like Sesame Flyers across this great borough and beyond.”

“The Sesame Flyers are a part of the heartbeat of Brooklyn’s Caribbean communities, and we’re thrilled to invest in this transformative project that will allow them to expand their programming and continue to engage residents for years to come,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo. “We’re investing in groups like this in every corner of Brooklyn and across the city, with major capital investments that will ensure New Yorkers have access to the world class cultural facilities they deserve.” 

“New York City is the arts and culture capital of the world, and it’s critical that we invest in the institutions that enrich our communities,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “I’m proud the Council fought for and secured vital funding to support the growth and success of our cultural organizations in Brooklyn and across the five boroughs. This meaningful investment will ensure all New Yorkers can continue to benefit from the programs provided by the Brooklyn-based institutions being highlighted today. We will continue to prioritize our arts and cultural sector that contributes enormously to the social fabric and economic vibrancy of our city.”

“Worldwide, Brooklyn is recognized as a hub of vibrant creativity, bursting with art, music, and incredible cultural institutions for all to enjoy,” said Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso. “Thanks to critical investments by The NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, our borough’s cultural life will grow even stronger. I look forward to continuing to celebrate the beauty of Brooklyn alongside the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and championing a borough where art, culture, and joy can flourish.”

“I am grateful for Mayor Adams and Commissioner Cumbo’s leadership and commitment to support cultural enrichment through capital investments that will lead to reimagining arts and culture in Brooklyn and our City,” said Council Member Farah Louis. “The $2 million capital investment to renovate Sesame Flyers—a cultural and institutional hub in East Flatbush—is a game changer as the neighborhood’s first cultural community space. This investment safeguards and preserves cultural space dear to our Caribbean community and provides long-term sustainability and success of arts and culture in East Flatbush.”

Sesame Flyers Cultural Center is embarking on a transformative project to revitalize and expand its current facilities into a state-of-the-art cultural hub in Brooklyn. Recognizing the need for a space where Caribbean residents can embrace and explore their identity, this expansion project focuses on cultural and arts programming as the foundation for holistic youth and community development. With a mission to bolster self-esteem and instill a sense of cultural pride, Sesame Flyers’ facility will feature spaces for diverse activities—ranging from performing arts to workshops. The project encompasses the renovation and expansion of the existing building to accommodate nearly 4,000 square feet of community space, including a multi-purpose community room, a multimedia room with dance studio, a design and production studio, a kitchen, and more. Through this venture, Sesame Flyers aims not just to provide a venue but to establish a cornerstone for cultural learning, expression, and growth in the heart of Brooklyn. The $2 million investment in the City’s FY24 budget includes $1.5 million from Mayor Adams and $500,000 from the City Council. This represents the first time Sesame Flyers, which is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, has received City capital support. 

“After 40 years of dedicated community service, the vision of our founders is blossoming before our eyes. This pivotal moment cements our role as a central cultural institution in Little Caribbean, emphasizing the importance of owning our space in this iconic part of Brooklyn. Having this property is a testament to our commitment to the community and the significance of our presence. I’m deeply thankful for the efforts of many, especially the Mayor and the Commissioner of Cultural Affairs, for recognizing the Caribbean community and ensuring we receive our rightful share in capital investments,” said Curtis Nelson, Executive Director of Sesame Flyers

In the Fiscal Year 2024 budget adopted this year, the City contributed over $222 million to nearly 80 cultural capital projects across the five boroughs, including $117 million from the Mayor, $79.3 million from the City Council, and $26.5 million from the five borough presidents. These investments in new construction, renovations, equipment purchases, and more will help ensure that NYC will continue to have world-class cultural facilities that are open and accessible to all.

“We are grateful for the steadfast support of culture in Brooklyn and across NYC from our elected officials—thank you to Mayor Adams, Commissioner Cumbo, Speaker Adams, Brooklyn Borough President Reynoso, and District 35 Council Member Hudson for recognizing the impact culture has on strengthening our city and communities,” said Adrian Benepe, president and CEO of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “The capital funds received from the City are funding improvements in Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s North Service Yard, a vital infrastructure that is being made more resilient to climate change-related storms, as well as restorations in the Garden’s historic Osborne Garden, a beloved “garden within the Garden” created more than 80 years ago as a WPA project. These improvements will help the Garden continue to welcome 700,000 visitors each year and serve as a community hub.”

“We are so grateful to Mayor Eric Adams, Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, Borough President Reynoso and the City Council for supporting us and for your tremendous investment in cultural and arts institutions across NYC,” said Chad Cooper, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. “BKCM’s project will create jobs, foster creative expression, bolster our vital cultural sector, and connect thousands more New Yorkers with music education and music therapy programs across the five boroughs!  Thank you.”

“BAM is deeply grateful to Mayor Eric Adams, Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo, the City Council and Speaker Adrienne Adams for their enduring support of NYC’s cultural organizations, and for their continued commitment to uplift our dynamic, kaleidoscopic borough,” said BAM President, Gina Duncan. “The City’s support enables BAM to present accessible world-class programming that you can’t find anywhere else, allowing us to better serve, nurture, and grow our community of artists, collaborators, and Brooklynites.”   

“We feel deeply honored to have received capital funding, which enabled us to acquire two Sprinter vehicles to transport our students to various performances and cultural events across the city. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the City Council for this new capital funding, and to the Office of Mayor Eric Adams, the Brooklyn Borough President, and the Department of Cultural Affairs for their invaluable support of our organization,” said Nicole Williams, Executive Director, Victory Music & Dance Company Inc.

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