The Schmooze

Arts Festival Reinvents Brighton Beach

Babushki chattering in Russian, store awnings adorned in Cyrillic, the scent of fresh pierogi in the air — for decades, these displaced attributes of Soviet culture have been characteristic of Brighton Beach, New York’s Russian-speaking enclave in the southern tip of Brooklyn. While much of the borough was busy gentrifying, Brighton managed to stay frozen in time — to the chagrin of many New York Russians, who prefer not to be associated with the ethnic stereotypes of “Little Odessa.” To challenge these negative associations, ArtOnBrighton — a music and arts festival celebrating the diversity of modern post-Soviet Jewry — will take place September 8 just a short walk from the storied neighborhood.

ArtOnBrighton will be held at the New York Aquarium and adjacent beach, and will feature visual art and performances by some of the community’s artists, musicians and entertainers, as well as a beach dance party in the evening with fire spinners and a beachside art installation.

“In today’s Russian-Jewish community, Brighton Beach has become more of a blemish than an icon of our existence, because we’ve moved on from who we were 25 years ago,” said Lisa Grebenyuk, program director at the Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations (COJECO) and a post-Soviet Jew.

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Arts Festival Reinvents Brighton Beach

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