Silent Barn suffers extensive damage in weekend fire

Derek Evers

Silent Barn Fire

Photo from Instagram (@alexpilkington42).

Our hearts dropped early Saturday morning as word quickly spread of a fire that occurred at the Silent Barn late Friday during the opening night of Freak Out Fest. The fire, which started in one of the third-floor apartments, was quickly contained by the fast-acting New York Fire Department, but not before the venue suffered extensive damage. Luckily, everyone in the venue, including residents and attendees, made it out safely.

According to some of the residents we spoke to, the fire was likely the result of an electrical malfunction, and though it was contained to the upper floor, the entire space will have to be renovated due to smoke and water damage throughout. While the venue was insured, most of the apartments were not, and residents now find themselves displaced as reconstruction takes place.

Members of the Brooklyn music community (and beyond) have started to raise money for the Silent Barn, and if you would like to donate to help them rebuild, we strongly encourage you to visit the Barn’s donation page. Some of our friends are coming up with creative ways to help raise money: Brooklyn punk band Big Ups and the label Dead Labour are offering their Eighteen Hours of Static LP on a pay-what-you-want basis, and Impose photographer Walter Wlodarczyk is selling prints of his photos taken at the Silent Barn, with all proceeds from both going to the Silent Barn’s recovery efforts. (We will update this space with more donation efforts as they are announced.)

If you would like to help out with the cleaning efforts, moving the displaced residents, benefit shows, or any of the many non-monetary relief efforts, you can sign up at the Heptagon.

Below is the official statement the residents of the Silent Barn released over the weekend. All shows and events will be canceled or moved in the interim, but the yard and cafe will remain open, and they welcome your presence in this difficult time.

[Friday] night, September 25th, Silent Barn experienced a fire on the third floor, in the apartments. There were people in the apartments and a show taking place downstairs in our mainspace, but everyone made it out of the building safely. We believe an electrical malfunction caused the fire, and hope to confirm the cause soon. The fire destroyed the room where it began and caused smoke and water damage to the surrounding apartments and to our performance space. Some of our residents lost all of their personal belongings. We will be unable to host events in our main performance space until further notice. Our stewdios and yard remain open as normal and we hope to host some events in those spaces in the meanwhile. As a collective, we are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support we have received so far!

The Silent Barn is insured and rebuilding costs will eventually be reimbursed. However, our residents’ personal losses are not covered. We are making every effort to support our residents during this difficult time, and we’re happy to say that the donations we’ve already received through our website can likely cover personal losses. Sadly, every upstairs resident will be displaced until the damage can be assessed and the building restored. The most pressing financial concern is the loss of income from empty apartments and no shows downstairs. This will probably cost us tens of thousands of dollars and could potentially also cost us the space we’ve worked so hard to create.

While we cannot host large groups of people in our mainspace during the building renovations, we’re hoping to maintain (and even extend) our daytime cafe hours and community programming. Stopping in to buy a coffee, hanging out in the yard, or even just working on your computer here are great ways to support us in this stressful time. We want to hang out with our friends and celebrate what makes this space so important in the first place. Here’s what we know so far:

UPCOMING EVENTS
We are currently working to move our existing shows over the next three weeks to neighboring venues. It may even be possible to host some of those smaller shows in other areas of the space. We’ll have a more accurate timeline within the next week, as damages are assessed. To our bookers, bands, and attendees: we’ll have constant updates for you via email, our newsletter, and our website. We’ll do our best to not cancel shows completely.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
Now more than ever, we need donations. We’re working to assess our losses and provide an updated version of what we need to replace (especially regarding our residents’ material possessions).

** Ways to donate and more updates can be found here: www.silentbarn.org/donate
Insurance claims move slowly, but we don’t have to. Donations will primarily go towards replacing residents’ personal belongings, Silent Barn’s damaged property and loss of income. We also hope to retain as much staff as possible; we provide about $7,500 to our shows staff every month, and we are concerned about supporting our friends who depend on their jobs here.

We’d like to take a moment to thank the New York City Fire Department for moving so swiftly to save lives and our space. Also, to every person who stopped by in person last night and today, brought supplies, food, and lent us their attention and kind words: thank you. You’ve made it possible for us to push through this tragedy swiftly and gracefully. The health of our project depends on your support, so please keep us in your thoughts. Silent Barn is People!

Yours,
The Silent Barn

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