In 2007 co-directors Kae Burke and Anya Sapozhnikova launched their DIY space in Ridgewood, self-described as a “hippie- punk squat house,” named House of Yes. However, it was their second location in East Williamsburg where the venue grew into a bastion for performance art, underground music, costume, and dance, serving as a hub for local and international talent. The venue’s dramatic closure in August 2013 sent waves through New York’s creative community, and the widespread news coverage spoke of the deep imprint House of Yes has left on the diverse artistic base. After the fall hiatus, during which the organizers gathered their thoughts and searched for a new space, House of Yes recently announced plans to re-open as a legitimate theater, restaurant, and bar venue off the Jefferson L stop at 4 Wyckoff Ave, sparking excitement and relief from the local performing arts community. This week I caught up with Kae Burke to learn more about their upcoming plans.
“When the smoke cleared we said to ourselves, let’s find the right space.” While the old location on Maujer Street was beloved by many, it was nestled within an industrial zone away from foot traffic. “Moving it [into central Bushwick] is going to make it a serious neighborhood hangout,” Burke explains.
The new House of Yes will continue to host four in-house productions annually, in addition to aerial classes and a variety of weekend entertainment. One crucial change will be a focus on drawing in more neighborhood residents outside of the avant-garde creative community, says Burke. “As fun as nightclubs are, it feeds your soul a little more to entertain for families,” she notes, citing her team’s plan to offer family-oriented workshops, as well as to make the space more accessible for student performances and community-oriented events. The full-fledged restaurant and bar being planned, with the help of new partners Ilan Telmont and Justin Ahiyon, will serve to create the stable revenue stream needed to support this kind of programming.
After signing a ten year lease, the new House of Yes is set to open in Fall 2014. Before the new venue opens its doors, though, the organizers have their plates full with construction plans and the battle for a liquor license. In addition, they aim to build a state of the art theater. “Quality lighting, a great curtain that works every time – the things that make the production value for both the performers and the audience.” The first step in the build out will be raising the ceiling in the area which will house the stage – no simple feat in a Bushwick industrial warehouse.
As House of Yes works to open its doors anew in Fall 2014, the organizers are looking to a dynamic and growing local community for support. And while we love the focus on providing more programs for emerging artists and families, let’s face it – who doesn’t miss their blacklit, costumed circus parties that put the art into Bushwick nightlife?