BAM’s new artistic director, David Binder, a former Broadway producer, has only been in the post since 2019; some staff members complain that since the pandemic darkened their theaters, the academy has not moved as aggressively into online programming as some of its peers.
Kaitlyn Chandler, a video editor and motion designer at BAM, who recently helped organize an administrative union there, said that many employees felt there had been a “lack of initiative” during the coronavirus crisis. “Staff morale is at rock bottom,” Chandler said. “It doesn’t feel like we’re really doing anything.”
Binder said in an email that the academy would next week announce its spring programming, which will include outdoor and virtual events. “Throughout this, me and my team have stayed committed to serving artists, offering residencies and commissions to support the development of their work during the pandemic and beyond,” Binder said in the email. “I’m very fortunate and proud to be part of such a dedicated team here at BAM.”
Wallace praised Binder’s programming and online programs, such as the play by V (formerly Eve Ensler) “That Kindness: Nurses in Their Own Words,” the public art installation “Let Freedom Ring,” the dance piece “Draw From Within” and Riz Ahmed’s “The Long Goodbye.”
Tom Finkelpearl, New York City’s former cultural affairs commissioner, said he was confident that BAM would bounce back. “These are exceptionally tough times across the board for performing arts organizations with the sudden loss of all earned income,” Finkelpearl said. “These difficulties are compounded at BAM with the loss of board and executive leadership, but BAM will survive.”
Wallace said that BAM had been “remarkably active” during the pandemic, and that she was confident in the new interim leaders. “We expect they will strengthen management across all areas of BAM,” she said, “and provide a solid foundation for BAM’s next president, for whom a search is underway.”
Peter Libbey contributed reporting.