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By The Editors
Everyone in New York City saw Spring 2020 get "canceled" and this summer is turning out to be unlike any other, thanks to COVID-19. But are we doomed to a year without stoop culture? No, we can still get a (safe) taste of it, thanks to savvy artists and community organizers like Kendra Ross and her creative posse.
Kendra is the founder of STooPS, an annual arts event and workshop series in Brooklyn's vibrant Bed-Stuy. The emphasis on local, accessible art and civic responsibility among different racial and cultural groups in this historically Black neighborhood always makes STooPS a beautiful summer highlight.
We asked Kendra a couple of questions about how STooPS will unite Bed-Stuy's neighbors in a socially distanced fashion on July 18th. Here's what she told us over email:
How do you explain what STooPS is folks who are new to it?
STooPS connects our neighborhood with a big ol' block party, classes, and opportunities for artistic expression in unconventional spaces. STooPS is a platform for connecting neighbors and sharing resources in Bed-Stuy. Each year we host our Annual Art Crawl where artists collaborate with home/space owners to transform their stoops, sidewalks, or storefronts into stages and galleries. Artists are asked to present interactive and engaging work that promotes community building. We also connect with local businesses to sponsor the event in exchange for giving them higher visibility and hopefully increased patronage.
How did you go about adapting STooPS for this year's event?
STooPS took a one-year hiatus from our Annual Art Crawl last year to do some internal restructuring. However, we were planning to host a panel discussion this year to talk about art and community-building and hear from our network on how we could come back bigger and stronger in 2021. It was actually a nudge from our community on social media that pushed us to hold an adapted version of the Art Crawl this year. Additionally, we, like most people, have serious cabin fever and wanted a way to get out and bring joy and life back into outside space. This is especially true since the city cancelled all block party permits for the summer. Our goal has always been to re-enliven the iconic outside social space Bed-Stuy is famous for. We wanted to do our part in upholding that legacy, despite COVID-19.
How do you anticipate this year will be different? What might some of the pluses be?
Normally, our Annual Art Crawl hosts 15-20 artists on different stoops around Bed-Stuy. This year we decided to have just 6 artists all present their work in one location in order for our team to be present to encourage attendees to properly socially distance. Also, by having all the artists in one place, we are able to more easily livestream the event, which we have never done in the past. This way all those who cannot physically make it outside will still be able to enjoy the fun. We are hoping to extend our community-building to the virtual community.
Find out more about the STooPS, including the artist line-up, here. Follow on Instagram or on register on Eventbrite for the July 18th livestream.
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