Roulette: One Year in Brooklyn

October 6, 2012

Happy Anniversary to Roulette.

I can’t believe it’s been a year since Roulette, an experimental music collective formerly located in Manhattan, set up shop in Brooklyn.

Clearly they’ve expanded the size and scope of their organization with a new 450 seat theater. But their mission, to provide opportunities for innovative composers, musicians, sound artists and interdisciplinary collaborators, stays the same.

First a little history. In 1978 three composers, Jim Staley, David Weinstein and Dan Senn, launched a new music composers’ collective they named Roulette. Weinstein had recently composed Café Roulette, an homage to Dada and to chance operations in music.

That  75-seat space in Lower Manhattan made a big name for itself in the world of experimental music and new jazz. The move to Brooklyn a year ago signaled an expansion in size, scope and ambition. They write in a birthday note on their website:

This last year was a breath-taking, nerve-wracking, exhilarating realization of the implications of our name. We moved from a 74 seat loft to a 450 seat theater, doubled our budget, presented over 150 music, dance and Intermedia performances, hosted fifty arts and community organizations, and our audience grew from 4,000 to 21,000.

Our new theater is an architectural gem with splendid acoustics and superbly equipped — thanks to the generosity of individuals, foundations, corporations, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Steve Levin, our New York City Council Member, and the New York State Council on the Arts. This season we will install an eight-camera robotic system which will make Roulette one of the few facilities in the city capable of complex videography, instant editing, and live broadcast.

In an astonishingly short time Roulette has become a cultural and social nexus for our neighborhood — the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership identifies Roulette as a keystone organization in its Strategic Plan — and has taken a prominent position in the cultural life of New York City.

The tote bags pictured above, designed by Christian Marclay, are for sale at Roulette.or

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