We are weary and tired, eyeing the end of the calendar year with longing even though we know that an arbitrary flip of the calendar page will not bring better news in the next year. Earlier this week BookCourt announced it’s closing; now we’ve got word that weirdo art and performance space Standard Toykraft is shutting down at the end of the month after an “exhaustive legal battle to save the building from being closed, sold and demolished,” according to a statement the venue sent out this week.
The space, which was founded in 2012, served up heavily costumed variety shows, puppet performances and the occasional cardboard robot battle. The owners prided themselves on offering low-cost performance and rehearsal space residencies, along with private studio space for visual artists. It’s not a surprise that a place like this would close as Williamsburg turns into the new Soho. But it’s one less place for weirdos in a city that desperately needs to hold on to them. Read their full letter announcing the closure is after the jump:
As many of you know Standard Toykraft has been in danger of closing for some time now. We’ve been fighting an exhaustive legal battle to save the building from being closed, sold and demolished. So many of you have lent your voice and support to the cause. I cannot express how much that meant to us and I thank you. You gave us courage and strength to soldier on and remind us for whom we were fighting. It is with a heavy, heavy heart that I must tell you that we are laying down our swords and will be closing our doors at the end of this month.
I doubt any of us had the foresight to see what STK would become. We really didn’t know what we were doing. We had a crazy idea that seemed insurmountable. And would have been if not for the people who rallied around us, rolled up their sleeves and helped transform a derelict sweatshop into a thriving artist community. The support and enthusiasm we received frankly baffled me. But there I’d be, standing atop a 10 yard dumpster covered in filth and jumping up and down trying to stamp down a mountain of pigeon shit covered sweatshop garbage so that we squeeze more crap into it. Then someone would come along and ask me what I was doing. When I explained in a Yeah I know this is crazy, sorry about all the feathers kind of way, they would confound the hell out of me by asking if they could help.
There were moments where I doubted myself and the mission. To become the organization we so much wished to be seemed a fool’s errand. I’d ask myself; Who in their right mind would dump money and resources into a theater space when so many have been forced to close due to greed, gentrification and “development”? It was you who reminded me that a space where theater and art can develop at little or no cost to artists was a fool’s errand worth fighting for. You believed when I couldn’t and that belief went a long way in driving us further.
I wished we could have fought harder and longer to save 722 Metropolitan. So many helped to make this space what it is today, we felt, more than anything else that we were fighting for them. But it is afterall just a place. Our community is bigger and stronger than any building. Many of you have remarked over the years the feeling of warmth you experience when you walk through the door or have told us how special this place is. I always respond with the simple but beautiful truth that is because of the love and goodwill that made STK possible. Sometimes a wall feels like more than a wall because of the intention that was put into building it. But the wall is only ever a wall. Everything that was nailed, hung, screwed, spackled and painted was done so with love and fellowship. That’s something we all get to keep long after this building is gone. We will always share that.
If I knew what I know now I’d do it all over again. Our lives are so much richer than I ever could have imagined because you. All of you. The people we have connected with and the projects that we’ve been privileged enough to watch grow fills me with a profound gratitude and humility that is shared amongst the STK family.
Thank you for letting us be a small part of your process.
Thank you for sharing your talent with us.
Thank you for allowing STK to be the first step towards the successful realization of your work.
Thank you for volunteering and reminding us that we’re volunteer worthy.
Thank you to all the puppeteers, burlesque dancers, musicians, comedians, storytellers, actors, magicians, contortionists who have performed in our variety shows and thank you to all who came to them.
Thank you to all the cardboard robot pilots who battled in our ring and didn’t sue when you got the tar kicked out of you.
But most of all thank you for joining us. For believing in us and enriching our lives.
And thank you for your love and friendship and all the memories. You will always be with us in heart and mind and wish you well on the journey. We’ll no doubt see you along the road.
Daniel Patrick Fay
Artistic Director of Standard Toykraft
Check out their final run of events here. We’ll miss this part of Williamsburg: