Why Bed-Stuy? The Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn is alive with energy, alive with the arts – but it’s not thriving as it should. The children aren’t given enough access to thrive, and the community continues to be the epicenter of disastrous health issues such as HIV/AIDS, asthma, and obesity. If a child wants any significant exposure to the arts, parents have to shuttle their children out to other, more prosperous areas – Fort Greene, Park Slope, Manhattan. The children have to leave their world and go into someone else’s to escape the rise in gang culture and the proliferation of guns that are readily available in Bed-Stuy’s public housing complexes.

There is precious little in Bed-Stuy that says, “I’m proud.” The Dwana Smallwood Performing Arts Center aims to cultivate and grow humanity in the area. “We aren’t celebrating our children enough,” says Smallwood, “Opening this center is my way of saying I am invested in the neighborhood. Bed-Stuy is more than bodegas and liquor stores and fast food chains. I have invested with my heart and soul and hopefully, from that, we will breathe new oxygen into the neighborhood.”