The Muse Brooklyn is a Circus school, fitness studio, and performing arts company located in Brooklyn, New York. In January of 2019, The Muse Brooklyn announced plans for their very first “Annual Gala” that will feature circus acts, carnival games, and more. Moreover, every guest will receive a “Gala Guide” booklet to keep as a keepsake (and advertising opportunities are available).

The gala will be held on Saturday, February 9, 2019, between the hours of 7 PM and 1 am.

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Galas, community and entertainment

The Muse Brooklyn is using this gala (and the hashtag #MyHeartBeatsCircus) as a way to raise awareness about the company. Guests are invited to make donations (all of which are tax deductible) to keep the circus flying high for another year. Since its establishment eight years ago, The Muse Brooklyn is known as a reliable space for rehearsals, private events, and very affordable classes which render it as much of a community service provider as an entertainment hub.

The Muse Brooklyn is preparing to launch its very first Annual Gala. / Image via Angela Buccinni, used with permission.
The Muse Brooklyn is preparing to launch its very first Annual Gala. / Image via Angela Buccinni, used with permission.

Yet the past eight months have been difficult for the organization due to conflicts with their landlords and the NYC Loft Board which resulted in a serious revenue deficit due to losing months of business. Now back on track, the company is struggling to make up lost time and is counting on their local council and the public to help them. The gala was an event born from this attempt to stay afloat in a sluggish economy.

“A-Muse Bouche First Annual Gala” has a goal of raising $40k (out of their current $55K deficit) to get fully back on its feet before beginning to save money for a more long-term sustainable location after their current lease expires in December.

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The company is hopeful that their next landlord will be more understanding and accommodating.

Attendees of the February 9 “A-Muse Bouche First Annual Gala” can expect to experience a classy circus wonderland including a gourmet vegan feast, live music, and circus performances throughout. There will also be an after party with carnival games, a DJ, costumes, zip-line rides, an auction, and prizes. Ticket prices for the main event will range from $125 to $200.

The after party alone will cost between $25 and $30.

The Muse Brooklyn is truly special because it is the only community-centric arts space in New York City which specializes in circus and cirque fitness training as well as live performances. Behind their walls, artistry, physicality, and creativity flourish to the point of maximum potential. All forms of entertainment, education, art, and fitness are celebrated in a way that is affordable and accessible to nearly everyone.

Recently founder Angela Buccinni discussed the forthcoming event and her hopes for the future of The Muse.

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Circus, events, and fundraising

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get involved with the circus and how did The Muse Brooklyn form?

Angela Buccinni (AB): I was a professional dancer for 23 or 24 years. Before I moved into a circus, I was drawn to the circus because of the Communication and trust required within the work. I very much so felt connected and appreciated how people work within the circus, I also loved the physicality and challenged any idea of dancing in the air are with another person differently.

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Muse Brooklyn formed at my old home in East New York Almost a decade ago. It formed almost accidentally out of my group of friends and a necessity to have a space in which we felt safe to create. After traveling to various places in the world, it became clear to me that one of the issues with New York is the sense of competition. In other places people openly skilled share in order to increase the level and to grow together. I wanted a space that supported that creation process and nurtured inspiration from one another rather than competition. It makes sense because it's so difficult to survive financially in New York City, so people often operate from basis of fear or scarcity. However, if we work together, we can create a true abundance. This is a huge piece of the muses’ mission statement.

MM: How did you find your current home and why have you experienced so many problems with the landlord recently?

AB: We realized we were losing our old studio space when the old landlords signed over the building to a huge media company without letting us know. Their construction began six months prior to our lease and so, luckily, we had a warning that we had to get out. The construction made it extremely dangerous for us, and we did end up having to vacate as soon as possible. It took months, but I eventually came across our current studio space. The first time I looked at it, the height was the only thing that was appealing. The space was in such terrible condition! It was full of trash and absolutely in shambles before we took it. We had very little capital, to begin with, and I knew it would not be enough to get through the initial build. We were unfortunately desperate with nowhere to go, and this was the only space logistically that could work and support the type of work that we do. Many artists came to build, and we spent many sleepless nights and countless hours each day building. We used all repurposed materials (except for the safety features, of course) and we built the entire space screen. The transformation took well over two years and is still a continuous process. Now, unfortunately, we may be losing the space within the next year. What we did not understand, and our past architects did not catch, was that our space is tied into loft situations with the buildings adjacent. Our landlords had no intention in doing the necessary work on the loft because it is an extremely expensive process. On the way the system set up, it's much less expensive for them to pay the fines and penalties each month. Without the work the city demands to be done on the lofts, our building is blocked from being able to obtain the necessary prep meeting for us to fill our full vision and business plans. What we do is operate on temporary permits and, most of the time, we need to operate at a fraction of our capacity limiting our income potential to one-fourth of what the business model should be able to do.

MM: What do you think New York lawmakers could do to help theater and arts organizations in general?

AB: I think unfairly a lot of responsibility falls onto the renters when it is truly the building owner's responsibility to take care of certain things within the building space. In our situation, we have fallen into a small crack where we are pinned between the city, the landlords, the loft board, and our lease. It's a mess of a situation and, unfortunately, it ends up costing us. I'm putting the entire community at jeopardy.

MM: What prompted you to start an annual gala and what are you most excited about regarding it?

AB: There's no better way to raise funds and doing what you love. We will be celebrating and sharing our art and the way we best know--how with our community. We loved and appreciate our audience and went out to buy food because we believe it is nourishing for the mind and soul.

We hope this can become an annual fundraiser that someday, rather than helping us survive, could become a key factor in guaranteeing our survival and being a greater part of the New York City arts and cultural scene.

MM: How much planning went into this event, and which aspects of it do you think the attendees will most enjoy?

AB: We have been planning this event for months, I am positive that the guests will enjoy the live music and the shows but, most of all, the wildcards that we are throwing in there. There will be some surprises and things for the audience to do and have a chance to actually be a part of it all! We're hoping that we can fill all of the seats.

MM: Provided this event is successful, how do you plan to evolve it in the future?

AB: Our plans, I want to find a building in which we can obtain all of our proper permitting with a landlord who is compliant with the law. Our best-case scenario is to find somehow a way to be confined and have our own building but we truly would be in charge of our own destiny and will be able to be here for the long haul. We have been working around the clock nonstop for well over eight months and developing and planning for the future. Our current lease runs out December 2020, so it's a race against the clock at this point. The community is strong and our willpower to survive this is even stronger.

MM: With the funds from the charity, where will you establish your new residence and what kind of shows will you put on at that venue?

AB: The gala is to help us survive our final year at our current space. We will need to do much larger fundraising and investment campaign in order to move and establishing a new residency.

MM: Is there anything more that you would like to talk about—for instance, have you any other exciting Cirque coming up in 2019?

AB: We've a lot of exciting things in the works that are not announced yet and others which are live on our social media pages. Take a peek; we have some really cool kids shows as well.

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