“This will be the first opportunity for the large group of coworkers, members, instructors and others to reconnect since their creative home shut its doors,” said writer and former 3rd Ward instructor Robin Grearson in announcing the event, scheduled for 7:30 Wednesday evening. 3rd Ward closed abruptly earlier this month, giving members just a few days to get their belongings out of the Morgan Street building before shutting down completely.
“It’s over,” said 3rd Ward investor and former board member Joanne Wilson in an interview Monday, confirming the space will not reopen under existing management.
“The company was going very forward on many cylinders in a lot of different locations, so I was concerned about that,” she said, when asked about reasons for 3rd Ward’s closure. “So was I surprised? Yes. Was I shocked? No.”
Despite the sudden closure, Wilson praised 3rd Ward founder Jason Goodman for building a space that inspired the growth of similar communities and a move toward hands-on, practical education around New York and around the country. “Jason was a pioneer in terms of what he built there,” she said.
But she didn’t refute a suggestion that a recent post on her blog about a “frustrating” experience with a company “that took a turn down a bad path” for reasons including a “lack of transparency about the reality of the state of the business” was about 3rd Ward.
“It might have been,” she said, reiterating a call from her blog post for entrepreneurs to seek advice from seasoned investors involved in their companies. “There is a tremendous value in pure transparency and pure conversations with people who can really help you think your business through,” said Wilson, a serial start-up investor and the wife of venture capitalist Fred Wilson. “That’s my takeaway from this: The value of leaning on good investors.”
Goodman, who hasn’t yet responded to Bushwick Daily’s requests for comment, told The New York Times the company ran short of funds amid rapid expansion, including opening a second location in Philadelphia earlier this year and planning a Crown Heights culinary center.
“People feel the loss of 3rd Ward because it attracted so many talented, smart, and creative people. But the people were its strength, and they’re still here,” said Grearson, the organizer of Wednesday’s meeting, in her announcement. “I want to create opportunities for this community to connect and share ideas, because new friendships, collaborations and solutions will naturally develop.”
Since the closure, other organizations have stepped in to help displaced members, students and teachers from 3rd Ward. Brooklyn Brainery has started a “matchmaking service” to help 3rd Ward instructors find new places to teach, and course listing service CourseHorse has offered credits to students who signed up for 3rd Ward classes through its site. Both organizations will present at Wednesday’s meeting.
The meeting will also include talks by former 3rd Ward instructors Launa Eddy, Ryan O’Connor and Victoria Valencia, and lawyer Genan Zilkha is set to offer advice on starting new businesses. Theresa Buchheister is also set to speak about how members share resources at The Silent Barn. Other art and education spaces – including Brooklyn Fireproof, Mellow Pages Library and UnionDocs, to name a few – will also be present.
The Brooklyn Brewery, located at 79 N. 11th St. in Williamsburg, is donating the space and staffing for the event.
“Please thank them with tips and smiles and kind words,” wrote Grearson.