For a half century, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) has been the beating heart of Caribbean culture in Crown Heights. As we prepare for WIADCA’s 50th anniversary gala this week, our hearts fill with pride at thoughts of the generations of local families who have been inspired and empowered by the Carnival parade each year.
But if we truly want to celebrate the past 50 years of Caribbean cultural leadership in our community, we shouldn’t just look back and reminisce – we must think about the future. That is why WIADCA has a plan that will help keep us flourishing in Crown Heights for another 50 years and beyond.
We are proud to be building a permanent home for WIADCA at the new Bedford-Union Armory, and we look forward to making it a reality. At a time when commercial rents are quickly rising across Crown Heights, deeply affordable office space at the new Armory will ensure that we can continue serving tens of thousands of local residents and expand our programming to reach even more families.
Let’s not forget the fact that this is a very difficult time for local non-profit organizations like ours. While our impact on the community is huge, our manpower and resources are often limited. Rising rents, combined with the struggle to secure new funding, can leave our very existence in jeopardy.
The new Armory is essentially giving WIADCA an opportunity that we just can’t afford to lose.
That is why we have been so disappointed to see some people come into Crown Heights and tell our community to “kill the deal” at the Armory. To be clear, killing the deal at the Armory would mean taking away the affordable space that would allow WIADCA to thrive, expand its programming and ensure the Carnival parade continues for generations to come. It would also prevent numerous other local non-profit organizations from taking affordable office space at the Armory.
The reality is that the new Armory is the right plan for Crown Heights because it serves multiple community needs – not just one. With a balanced mix of new recreational and athletic space, office space, community space and affordable housing, this proposal ensures the long-term sustainability WIADCA needs to feel confident about our future.
Our team is so thrilled to prepare for this year’s Carnival parade – our fiftieth through the streets of Central Brooklyn. We are just as thrilled about moving to a new home at the Bedford-Union Armory. It is time for our community to come together and create a brighter future for Caribbean culture in Crown Heights.