NEW YORK CITY: Brooklyn performance space JACK has announced a partnership with the mutual aid group We Keep Us Safe Abolitionist Network to transform its theatre space into a hub for the distribution of food to neighbors in need during the global COVID-19 crisis.
“We see this moment as a challenge for us to define what it means to be in solidarity with our community, and to thrust ourselves into being of use to those around us.” said Alec Duffy, founder and co-director of JACK, in a statement. “At some point, hopefully sooner rather than later, we will be sharing more performances and conversations, but this is the effort we feel called to support right now.”
We Keep Us Safe (WKUS)—a Black, Indigenous, and People of Color-led mutual aid group—began an effort in mid-March to identify and catalog the needs of Brooklyn’s public housing residents, with volunteers procuring and beginning to distribute the needed food and supplies from a staging area in Brownsville, Brooklyn. When that space closed at the end of March, JACK took over as the central site for collecting, sorting, arranging, and delivering these emergency resources as care packages to families in need.
The aim of the effort is to address the lack of support and resources provided to economically disadvantaged members of the Brooklyn community, whose populations are disproportionately represented among front-line workers at most risk from the virus. Dozens of volunteers are involved, and already more than 100 families have received food as part of the effort, which will continue through the shutdown.
The project is funded in part by a grant from Brooklyn Community Foundation’s COVID-19 initiative in partnership with the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, as well as with support from The Puffin Foundation and from the generosity of many individual donors.
Founded in 2012, JACK’s mission is to fuel experiments in art and activism, collaborating with adventurous artists and their neighbors to bring about a just and vibrant society. This initiative builds upon JACK’s work providing a space for dialogue and action around racial justice, including 2015’s Forward Ferguson series and the ongoing Reparations365 series, which has featured over forty performances and community conversations around distributive justice for Black Americans.