BROOKLYN—If Stoop Kid from Hey Arnold turned the front of his house into a live art show, Arnold and friends would be too busy watching talent unfold rather than antagonizing him to come down the steps.
STooPS: Step Up. Step Out. kicked off its inaugural year Sunday in Bedford-Stuyvesant of Brooklyn. Residents, friends and supporters walked around various stoops of Bed-Stuy that showcased different art forms. Dancers, singers, poets and visual artists stood at their stoop-platforms with times outlining when they would perform or create their art live.
“A really good friend of mine is one of the organizers and they invited me,” Tim “Prolific” Jones, a poet, said. “I love Bed-Stuy; it’s my favorite neighborhood in all of New York and even though I don’t live here I’m always out here. So, the chance to actually perform here outside in the community I felt was really important.”
Writing since he was 18, Jones saw this event as a way to connect the community with artists who may have seemed out of reach to the “average” Bed-Stuy resident.
“Dancers that would only perform at Harlem Stage or at BAM are performing on somebody’s stoop. It’s making that art accessible,” Jones said.
Kendra Ross, a Detroit native, artist and founder of STooPS, realized that her own backyard was rich with a substantial amount of artists but the community was very disjointed.
“I started to really get a sense of the richness of the arts in Bed-Stuy so I wanted to create a tangible way to connect artists with each other and with the community,” Ross explained. “I feel like Bed-Stuy has a really strong community and sometimes for artists because were so transient – on tour and doing different things – that we don’t really get a way to tap into that.”
Advertising in publications and posting flyers in the neighborhood, Ross and her STooPS team attracted a pool of artists willing to perform outside.
For some artists, this wasn’t just an art event that allowed them to showcase their talents – it allowed them to represent their own neighborhood.
“I got involved because this is my neighborhood, this is where I was born and raised so why not meet more people I have not known living here,” TiffanyBChanel, a sneaker and jewelry designer, said. “I love where I’m from and I love to say this is where I’m from, this is me come out to my home and see what I do.
Ross hopes to make this an annual event for which Bed-Stuy and other Brooklyn neighborhoods can enjoy.
“I would like to see this in Bed-Stuy annually. I’m starting where I am but I would like to expand stoops to other neighborhoods in Brooklyn,” Ross said. “I’m from Detroit and I would like to do an incarnation in Michigan called Porches. I’d like to see this spread as a way to connect arts with community.”
BY: Alley Olivier