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Brooklyn, New York

Silent Barn

A massive art collective tries a new take on Brooklyn's DIY music scene -- by making it fully legal. 

The Silent Barn has something of a storied history. The band Skeletons started the DIY venue in their Ridgewood, Queens apartment in 2005, and until 2011 it was a raucous, dingy, rollicking good time—and then they got ransacked.

Around $15k worth of equipment was destroyed, and then the city came in and evicted them. That probably should have been that, but the Silent Barn launched a Kickstarter, which brought in more than $40k. So they decided to start over, but this time, to be as legit and legal as they could be.

Fast forward to early 2013, and the Silent Barn 2.0 opened its doors in Bushwick. The new incarnation is definitely a continuation of the old space, but on a much bigger scale. The building itself is a lot larger—three floors and a yard, with eight bedrooms, thirteen roommates, three stages (or more, as needed), an art gallery, a dozen art and recording studios, and on and on.

The scope is bigger too; in addition to music shows nearly every night, there’s science art, the Aftermath Supplies artist reuse shop, multimedia video art events, a supper club, piñatas, theatre groups, and a whole lot more. And the community involvement this time around is huge: there are about 150 people participating, in various degrees, in the conceptualizing and running of the space. Administration is framed on the metaphor of a kitchen, and there are about 60 “chefs,” each responsible for keeping a small aspect of the Barn going. It’s all volunteer, all consensus, and all making it up as they go along. It’s pioneering a new way to do DIY—intentional, flexible, transparent, and innovative. 

** Article adapted with permission from this piece on Brooklyn Spaces