Since the news broke on Saturday that the Brecht Forum will be closing after 39 years there has an outpouring of reactions at indypendent.org and on social media from the Brecht's far-flung community of artists, activists and intellectuals. Below is some of what Brecht's supporters are saying.
Note: For all who are interested, Brecht Forum will hold a public meeting this Wednesday 7:30 pm at the Brooklyn Commons to discuss the decision to close and begin a dialog about how the project may move forward in a different form.
My heart is broken. [Brecht] was such a special space, such a special organization. It was a resource and space to connect with other activists, to learn things, to hang out, to organize creative actions. I met the one of the Yes Men here as part of a team organizing a "laugh in" of a speech Carlos Slim gave on the importance of philanthropy at the New York Public Library. It was an inspiring meeting – I wish now that I had taken more advantage of the Brecht Forum. It was among the many things I was looking forward to after transferring from Brandeis back to New York. And now it's gone.
Sad to see the Brecht Forum in NYC close down. It was an important movement space in so many ways.
Extreme wealth is killing this city
Gosh, Pearl Paint and now Brecht in the same week…my heart can't take it!
I didn't see it coming. That's where I picked up [my husband] Kurt in 1987.
I can't believe the news I just heard. The Brecht is closing down. I first walked in there in 1993 with Paul Sweezy. I had submitted an essay to Monthly Review on contract labour. We were chatting next door in their office about India, the communist movement there and the essay when he asked me if I had been to the Brecht. I didn't know what it was. He took me next door and showed me this remarkable place with Marxism schools, an African drumming teacher, a solidarity organization with China, a library with all the left books I had never read, and a large space for events.
In time I met Liz Mestres and Sam Anderson – two stalwarts of this great institution, then at West 27th street, not far from the CPUSA building. When Biju Mathew, Sunaina Maira, Sangeeta Kamat, Ali Husain Mir, and a team of others began our discussions to hold a summer school for South Asian radicals it was obvious that we'd hold it at the Brecht, where we did from 1997. Rupal Oza, Ashwini Rao, Prerana Reddy, Mona Ahmad Ali, Shomial Ahmad, Sonia Arora, Surabhi Kukke, Svati Shah, and many others will remember the first few years of Youth Solidarity Summer — and then Teju Nyc, Prachi Patankar, Anju Comet, Catalyst YaliniDream, Amita Swadhin — I'm missing many. Sorry! How many tears and how much laughter did we shed in the Brecht? Biju Mathew helped me launch Karma of Brown Folk there in 1999 alongside Sree Sreenivasan; I had so many book releases there, including most recently for Uncle Swami (thanks to Ken Chen) and Poorer Nations (thanks to Andrew Hsiao). The Brecht was held up by Kazembe Come Through Panda and Max Uhlenbeck and so many others. Sitting here this evening in Beirut, after an extraordinary day in the Bekaa Valley, I lift a glass of something smoky to the memory of the Brecht Forum. Let it rise again from the ashes.
The Brecht Forum accomplished everything it did because of people like you; teachers, volunteers, students — everyone who put love and a lot of effort into making it a vibrant and multidimensional space! Hopefully the project will continue to move forward albeit in a potentially different form.
Sad to see this news of the Brecht Forum's closing after 40 years. So many solid thinkers, so fluid an organization and so few like it. My very best, my deepest gratitude to Max Uhlenbeck, Kazembe and my old friend & companera, Liz Mestres for holding up the flame, creating sparks in this dark place. May the sparks continue burning the evil…
—Roberto Alvarenga Lovato
The Brecht Forum was our home. Mucho amor.
When I was a teenager in NYC, [Brecht] gave me sense of community that was so vital in Manhattan. It was also, the best community ever – full of amazing activists. The people I met at the Brecht showed me new ways of relating to each other and acting in the world as politically. They were some of the first adults I thought I would like to be like. It was a special place and I have no doubt that the experiences it provided to the large amount of people it touched will continue to help bring about new projects for a more loving, creative and equal society. Thank you The Brecht Forum! Max Uhlenbeck Kazembe Come Through Panda
The closing of NYC's Brecht Forum is a big deal, but not cause for wailing and gnashing of teeth … I think the BF project has had a crisis of self-definition for a long time, mainly brought about by the deficit of political thinking on the left. Brecht Forum, and Left Forum while we're at it, actually work against themselves in their eagerness to divorce themselves from the pain of everyday crisis and real-time politics.
Saddened to hear that my old haunt, the Brecht Forum, is closing its doors. Between 2007 and 2008, I went to The Brecht Forum almost every other day. It was an important space of convergence for me; I would go with no particular reason in mind, and find radical art, interesting books, and good friends. I relied on the library heavily, and got my first taste of Althusser, Lukacs, Eisler, and Luxemburg from its shelves. In that room, I sat in Rick Wolff's class on Capitalist Accumulation, and in the neighboring room, it was Reading Capital with Bill Difazio. I remember going to the lectures of Tariq Ali, George Katsiaficas, the editors of Black Fire, and Peniel Joseph in the forum's space, just like I still revisit the volume of Walter Benjamin that was given to me by Kazembe in his office. I remember long conversations with Tibby Brooks in the office of Science and Society, which was to be the first periodical to accept an article of mine (although they published it belatedly, after I joined the EF! Journal). I can definitely say that, together with the Wetlands Activismcollective, Bluestockings Bookstore, Café, & Activist Center, and a select number of other spaces, the Brecht made NYC my home for those too-brief two years. Its spirit will always live on, and its light will shine in new places around the City. Much love to everyone who has ever been a part of the place.
—Alexander Reid Ross
This is a sad day. The struggle continues.
—Anthony P. Johnson
As we go again through the process of watching [Williamsburg] rapidly gentrify around our own space, it's obvious that it's just a matter of time before we'll also face the inevitable move (always hopeful that one can make it through). It's hard enough to survive in NYC (everywhere) these days, never mind trying to maintain left collective infrastructure!
Brecht Forum is a major loss.
Is there really no way to raise the funds? I find this so hard to grasp!
I'm so sorry that the Brecht Forum is shutting down. Put me on a list of people who would be happy to help in any way needed to keep the Brecht Forum's message alive.
—Sonal Keenan Bhatia
This is a massive loss. We need a shared space to work, organize, radicalize, educate, love and resist!!
For the past 5 or 6 years I have been a proud participant in the project that has been the Brecht Forum. I have been teaching Hegel and a number of other courses at the Brecht and I have organized many other events there as well on a variety of issues and topics.
I urge people to come to the meeting on Wed, Apr 16 at 7:30 PM at the Brecht Forum, 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and plan how we can keep the project of activist and Marxist work and education alive and flourishing in NYC.
Ending a 501(c)3 legal entity is not the same thing as ending what brought the many of us whom have created and sustained the Brecht Forum together in the first place. What brought us together in the first place is a desire for social change and the education we need to help make that happen. Let's use that fact to stay together and create a new institution.
It's a crushing loss … [Brecht] was the place where I became politically grounded in NYC, where i met my chosen family of Youth Solidarity Summer, and where i struggled to strengthen the antiwar movement. Had hoped the move to Brooklyn would allow them to continue for longer, but I know the board would have not taken this decision without looking at all the options. Please come this Wednesday at 7:30pm to see in what new form the spirit and activities of the Brecht can continue.