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Important Queens DIY Venue Rebuilds after Burglary

Wham City at Silent Barn, photo courtesy of SleepWhenDeadNYC on Flickr

Late Monday night, word quickly got around that the beloved DIY arts and music venue on the border of Queens and Brooklyn, Silent Barn, had been burglarized. $15,000 of musical equipment, handmade art and valuables was taken from the venue, and the place was violently trashed. New York indie media outlets reacted rapidly, passing on the information and waiting for updates, but rarely did I find a post that really tapped into the heartbreak felt community-wide after hearing the damage.

Silent Barn, located in neighborhood Ridgewood, Queens, was founded in 2004. Launching the career of notable bands like Vivian Girls and Dan Deacon, Silent Barn has always maintained a rabidly all-ages show policy. Art covered the walls, it was rigged with sound equipment to capture some of the live music performances, and bands played in the kitchen. They housed a zine collection, one of a few in the area, boasting over 700 titles, in addition to their experimental video game arcade, Babycastles. I’ve had the pleasure to play among dirty dishes on a few occasions; most of my friends and colleagues can say the same.

I’ve barely been able to keep up with the myriad projects launched by the Silent Barn inhabitants. Showpaper, a bi-weekly listing of local all-ages shows, also doubles as a poster featuring work by contemporary artists. The paper is just one of many satellites of Silent Barn that have helped establish underground cultural institutions in New York. Silent Barn has been open to suiting community needs, fitting in benefit shows for the likes of Willie Mae Rock Camp and The Worst Compilation Zine.

Silent Barn has been a vital community center. I’ve called them with barely two week’s notice to set up a Wednesday night show for touring bands, and unlike many places, they were glad to host us. The venue has taken chances on tons of new music, allowing for the growth of a really vibrant scene.

Staying true to its unrelenting spirit, rather than quit, Silent Barn is using this terrible event to springboard new opportunities. Within two days, the staff and residents of Silent Barn have chosen to relaunch the project, transitioning to “a viably permanent, resilient, and safe part of New York City.” In case community support for the project hasn’t been evident, I watched the Kickstarter campaign increase by $2,000 in less than two hours this morning.

Donations are being collected on Kickstarter and a record of the stolen music equipment can be found on Facebook.

Editor’s note: At the time of publication of this post at 3pm EST, the Silent Barn Kickstarter has already received $12,450 in pledges from 218 individuals.

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