There have been a number of exciting new developments for New Amsterdam in our first full year as a non-profit, but none that we were more proud of than our new 3,000 square foot headquarters in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Over the past six months, we’ve poured our hearts and souls into our converted warehouse, scrubbing the floors, painting the walls, finding kitchen appliances off Craigslist, and gradually transforming a former biker hangout into a multi-purpose music venue/office/rehearsal/residency space. In late September, we were able to have our first preview event in the space featuring Contemporaneous Ensemble. We were looking forward to unveiling the space to our community and the city-at-large this fall through a series of fundraisers and concerts.
Hurricane Sandy had other plans.
Despite the many hours we spent on Sunday preparing for the storm–stacking furniture on cinder-blocks and moving everything we could to higher ground–our space was flooded with almost four feet of polluted sea water. As a result, about 70% of our catalog of CDs has been destroyed–CDs we hold on behalf of our artists (we do not own them). Literally ALL of our financial records were destroyed, including our back-up hard-drive. Sewage, gas, spilled paint thinner, and bleach all blended with seawater, creating a toxic mess. A mess that is sure to corrode our newly installed drywall, kitchen cabinets, and office furniture. Even the basics like doors and plumbing are compromised and will need to be replaced. Musical equipment, amps, and priceless vintage synthesizers were also destroyed, along with countless personal items, clothing, two couches, records, and other furniture. We will need to move swiftly to acquire industrial dehumidifiers and hire professional mold-cleaners to help us combat the high risk of toxic mold. We have yet to assess the damage to our donated Steinway grand piano which we wrapped with a plastic tarp prior to the storm; the water mark from the flood was drawn inches from the piano’s lid.
Over the last few months, we’ve invested countless hours preparing our space, and thousands of dollars renovating it — money and time we were hoping to make up for with a series of public events and private fundraisers this fall and winter. Now that plan is in severe jeopardy. Our financial future is intimately tied to our space; we were “all in,” so to speak. After sharing news of our plight on Facebook, literally hundreds of you have offered to help. The outpouring of love and concern from our larger community has been staggering and truly inspiring. At the suggestion of a number of NewAm friends and artists, we have decided to create this page — an official home for our Hurricane Relief Fund. New Amsterdam’s label arm operates on a non-profit-model that distributes 80% of album revenues directly to artists, so while we encourage the community to continue to buy albums and help support our artists who were also all affected by this disaster, the organization itself will receive the most benefit from direct contributions. If you would like to donate to our recovery effort, you can visit this page and scroll down to the link below. Your donation will be fully tax deductible, and will be returned with heartfelt thanks and supreme gratitude.