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Image: bam_brooklyn via Instagram

Did you know that America’s oldest performing arts center is located right in the heart of Brooklyn, New York? The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) was founded in 1861, and since its inception it has grown to be inclusive of a multitude of artistic genres. In its more than 150 years as a major perming arts venue, BAM has become one of the most revered arts institutions in the world.

One of BAM’s most impressive features is the sheer volume of talent and diverse performance that is cultivated there. What started as a prominent center for music has evolved into a space dedicated to visual arts, dance, theater, opera, film, comedy, spoken word, children’s programs, and even more. “When BAM was founded, the term ‘academy’ had a slightly different connotation than it does today; it referred to an association or institution for the advancement of art, literature, or science, which BAM certainly endeavored to be,” the Academy’s history explains.

“The Brooklyn Academy of Music was first created with the intention of presenting music alone. Soon after its inception, however, BAM began to expand its repertoire,” which is how the institution has become a space that welcomes a diverse range of artistic disciplines. Not only are the mediums presented at BAM diverse, they are also often remarkably progressive, with artists, directors, and choreographers tending to delve into the avant garde. With this in mind, it is easy to understand the kinds of artists that BAM has attracted over the last 150 years; BAM performers and curators are adventuresome people who push boundaries within their genres and strive to connect their work with an equally adventurous audience.

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Image: bam_brooklyn via Instagram

Another unique component to the Brooklyn Academy of Music is its notably accessible nature. BAM is a wonderfully inclusive space that has something to offer just about anyone. Featuring talks, programs for kids and families, and classes in addition to regular performances, the Brooklyn Academy of Music is committed to ongoing learning and teaching through the arts.

One of the institution’s greatest achievements to date is its curation and organization of the Next Wave Festival, a BAM staple since 1982. Critics have expressed how the Next Wave Festival has permanently changed the artistic landscape in its pursuit of showcasing “breakout performances and landmark productions.” For three months every year the Next Wave Festival features new works and cross-disciplinary collaborations between artists. “The signature fall festival returns for its 31st season, presenting a dynamic lineup of work by emerging artists and innovative modern masters. The 2013 Next Wave Festival showcases the very best in contemporary performance, plus artist talks, storytelling, visual art, and film,” BAM explains.

For more information about the Next Wave Festival (taking place right now!) and about BAM’s regular performance arts programming, visit its official website.