“Little Carnegie…it cultivates a studied unpredictability…” – New York Magazine
ISSUE Project Room is a pioneering performance center, presenting projects by both emerging and established experimental artists that expand the boundaries of artistic practice and stimulate critical dialogue about art and culture in the broader community. ISSUE plays a vital role in NYC’s cultural ecology, facilitating the commission and premiere of new works and presenting a diverse array of artists working across the disciplines of music, sound, dance, film, performance and literature. Programming places a special focus on bringing recognition to artists whose important contributions to the creative field have been underrecognized, often as a result of gender, sexuality, or geographic location. Through the cultivation of innovative new work, ISSUE performs an essential research and development function that stimulates a constant influx of ideas into the local, national, and international creative landscape.
ISSUE Project Room began in 2003 on the Lower East Side with a special concert curated by ISSUE’s late founder Suzanne Fiol and musician Marc Ribot honoring the work of Franz Casseus, the father of Haitian Classical music. Performances by Debbie Harry and the Jazz Passengers, Elliott Sharp, Anthony Coleman and dozens of others soon followed. Responding to the needs of artists in the community, Suzanne committed herself to developing ISSUE into a year-round performance space where artists could present their most challenging new work.
By 2005, ISSUE was presenting 100 arts events annually featuring pioneering artists from all disciplines. It had outgrown its Lower East Side location, and moved to a unique space in Brooklyn: a two-story silo in the post-industrial margin of the Gowanus Canal. At the Silo, ISSUE’s programming expanded to include site-specific works that incorporated a custom-designed 16-channel hemispherical speaker system created by sound artist Stephan Moore. Success in the space, both critical and programmatic, was tremendous, but after two years its rent was doubled and ISSUE was forced to move on.
In 2007, ISSUE moved to the Old American Can Factory, where it continued to thrive — emerging as one of Brooklyn’s leading cultural catalysts and bringing 10,000 people to the Gowanus area of Brooklyn each year.
By 2008, ISSUE was supporting new work by more than 200 innovative arts each year, and entered and won a competition for a twenty-year rent-free lease to the 4,800 sq. ft. theater located at 22 Boerum Place— on the groundfloor of the historic McKim, Mead, and White “110 Livingston” building in Downtown Brooklyn. This tremendous award was a strong recognition of the crucial role ISSUE will play in shaping the future of Brooklyn and maintaining New York City’s status as a cultural leader.
Tragically, in late 2008, ISSUE’s founder Suzanne Fiol was diagnosed with cancer. She lost her courageous battle in October 2009.
From 2009-2010, committed to achieving the founder’s vision of creating ISSUE into a permanent home for experimental arts culture, the Board, staff, and artist community continued to evolve and expand ISSUE’s programming while searching for a new leader.
In 2012, ISSUE moved to its theater space at 22 Boerum Place to present 150 pre-construction concerts while working with NYC Department of Design and Construction to prepare for renovations scheduled to begin in 2013.
ISSUE completed its capital campaign in 2012 by raising over $4,000,000 to renovate its space into the last section.
Suzanne Fiol (5/9/60 – 10/5/09)
Founder & Artistic Director
Suzanne Fiol was an extraordinary spirit, a force of nature and a prominent figure in the visual and performing arts worlds. As both a visionary artist and the founder of ISSUE Project Room, she created one of New York City’s premiere destinations for experimental culture and avant-garde performing arts— a legacy that will resonate for decades to come.
A native of New York City, Suzanne studied at Antioch College and completed her BFA at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, before returning home to acquire her MFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
As a photographer, Suzanne has exhibited nationally and internationally. Her work was represented for several years by Ezra Mack and has appeared in many publications in the U.S. and abroad. Her photos can be found in many private collections and belong to permanent collections at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum, The Queens Museum and The Milwaukee Art Museum.
In 1985, Suzanne became Director of Sales at Light Gallery, NYC before launching the Donald Wren Gallery, NYC where she was named Director in 1987. She moved on to become the Sales Director at the Marcuse Pfeifer Gallery and the Brent Sikkema Gallery. During the fall of 2001, she met Jan-Willem Dikkers and Martynka Wawzyniak. Together they launched Issue Management, a photo agency that represents well-known art photographers such as Jack Pierson, Mitch Epstein, Richard Kern, Renee Cox and Marilyn Minter.
In February 2003, Suzanne founded ISSUE Project Room, an art and performance space on East 6th Street in the East Village. Shortly thereafter, ISSUE migrated to an iconic and beautiful silo in Brooklyn along the banks of the Gowanus Canal. Now located at 22 Boerum Place in the historic McKim, Meade, and White-designed 110 Livingston St. building in Downtown Brooklyn, ISSUE Project Room continues its mission as a performing arts center that provides artists and musicians with a dynamic environment in which to create innovative and challenging work. ArtForum has said, “Suzanne Fiol wanted to make a space for music, performance, and readings in a spirit of love and commitment and created one of the warmest and best-sounding venues in New York.” ISSUE has become one of the most beloved and important showcases for experimental culture in New York City.
On October 5th, 2009, Suzanne Fiol lost her courageous battle with cancer. She was loved deeply and missed by all.