The Bushwick Starr

SeaChange’s $1 million loan to The Bushwick Starr enabled them to acquire a new, permanent space for expanded theatrical programming and community artistic education.


Arts & Culture

New York


In June 2020, three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, leadership at The Bushwick Starr (“The Starr”) received notice from their landlord that they would have to move their nonprofit theater space to make way for residential development. Founded in 2007, The Starr is an award-winning Off-Off-Broadway theater company whose mission is to develop and produce work by both established and emerging artists that challenge traditional perceptions of theater and performance, while building a strong and meaningful bond with local schools and community. Having a home base in Bushwick from which to produce their work and reach the community is a critical part of fulfilling this mission.

While taking on a new space as a permanent home would be a financial and logistical challenge, it also presented an opportunity for an organization that had been gradually outgrowing its second-floor loft space. After looking at 25 sites in and around Bushwick, The Starr’s leadership found a former dairy plant for sale at 419 Eldert Street, just over a mile from their old location on Starr Street. The single-story, 5,000-square-foot building would enable The Starr to establish a more accessible, multi-use artistic space for the Bushwick community.

With a purchase price of $2.2 million, the location was more reasonable for The Starr than other spaces, but it would still require more capital than the $1.2 million organization had on hand. In early 2021, The Starr approached SeaChange seeking an acquisition loan to purchase the property. The Starr had $1.2 million of the funding committed by a donor and needed $1 million to cover the gap. Through the combined resources of NYPRI and Contact Fund, SeaChange was able to make a $1.0 million, five-year loan available to the organization. By the end of the term, The Starr will seek to replace the loan with more traditional, longer-term financing. This allows SeaChange to play the role of helping small organizations develop their credit history and financial management so that they are better positioned to take on more conventional financing.

The Starr closed on the property in May 2021 and is in the process of a three-year, $10 million capital campaign to cover renovation and operating costs, as well as expanded programming. They have already received $6 million in commitments from the city, private foundations, and individual donors. The plans for the new space include a 90-seat black box theater (an increase from 72 seats in the previous space), a dressing room, rehearsal space, scenic workshop, office, and lobby space. The Starr anticipates operating with an increased annual budget of $1.5 million to cover the expanded running costs, with the new space slated to open in late 2022. The project was described in an article in The New York Times. We are pleased to have been able to support the Starr as it continues to expand its programming for the Bushwick community.

Photo caption: Bushwick Starr leaders in front of 419 Eldert Street.
Photo credit: Maya Sharpe.