Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Be Spectacularly Wrong. I Was!

Today's New York Times (February 5th)  reports that KAREN BROOKS HOPKINS president of Brooklyn Academy of Music  (BAM) will step down next year. Thereby - as they say - hangs a tale. BAM is over 150 years old. But its modern incarnation dates to the arrival of  impresario HARVEY LICHTENSTEIN  in 1967.

Harvey was a ballet dancer, he had an arts award from Ford Foundation and at one point was briefly employed at the Oram firm where we became acquainted. He told my colleague the late Sid Green and me of a bold plan he had to bring all the performing arts to Brooklyn, to revivify BAM and to create an entirely new performing arts presence in New York, in of all places, Brooklyn. Brooklyn-born Sidney thought that was a super idea.

Karen Brooks Hopkins, BAM President
As a lifelong Manhattan-centric snob from 67th Street  not from somewhere west of Newark, east of the river, or  north of the Spuyten Duyvil, I assured Harvey that this was a quixotic notion and a dead certain money dump. He bore no grudge and a few years after that I met Karen when we were retained by BAM. She was then BAM's development officer and all I remember from that time was a couple of all-nighters to pull together an NEA grant.

Today BAM is a  multiplex of arts and edgy vision; real estate; and for sure one of the most exciting venues in the city. Karen's energy, creativity and chutzpah  is an example of  CEO-ship anyone could learn from. To paraphrase what Jefferson said of Adams, or maybe it was the reverse, she can be succeeded  but  not replaced.

We have been on and off members of BAM for years now. If they served crow in the cafe I'd eat it!

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