3rd Ward is shutting down on Friday shut down last night



The popular East Williamsburg art space 3rd Ward, best known for its expansive array of pricey classes and its weekly “drink and draw” sessions, closed abruptly last night without warning. Calls to 3rd Ward currently go unanswered. According to a tip we received this afternoon, rumors abound about the possibility of foreclosure or bankruptcy, with talk even of killing electricity on the space by midnight. Meanwhile, thousands of the organization’s members have no knowledge of the shutdown.


We hear on good faith (but have yet to fully confirm) that 3rd Ward is closing on Friday. Evidently, their fundraising attempts were not enough to keep the operation afloat. Clearly, we are bummed since 3rd Ward has helped make Bushwick and Williamsburg the thriving arts communities that they are today. Here’s an explanation of why they’re having problems:

3rd Ward is seeking an immediate minimum investment of approximately $1.5 million, and we are asking our community to join us. This growth and stabilization capital is essential to our continued success. While we had strong revenues of $3.6 million in 2012, we had a downtick of revenues in 2013 and our expansion and resulting operational costs created a need for a new infusion of equity.

The current operating losses and cash deficit are primarily due to three factors:

Our revenue at the Brooklyn location fell as a result of a change we made to one of our membership products earlier this year.

The new location in Philadelphia is requiring more capital than expected to achieve profitability or reach cash flow break-even.

The development of the Culinary project required advance spending.

The new infusion of capital will be used to:

Recapitalize the Brooklyn location to incorporate key operational changes that will deepen our educational content and improve our membership products, and
Based on the level of investment from the campaign, devote additional resources towards the Philadelphia location and the Culinary project.

We hear that the co-working space will be run by the landlord as a shared studio space. The restaurant, Fitzcarraldo, will remain open.


  1. Anonymous says:

    This is no surprise as 3rd Ward has been in financial trouble for the past couple years. Tons of staff had been laid off (including the bookkeeper and accountant), teachers weren’t paid, and the core staff that began with the company continued to rake in $80,000+ in salary for doing basically nothing. It’s very sad since 3rd Ward seems great from the outside, but spend just 5 minutes inside the offices and you could immediately tell it was chaos.

    • Anonymous says:

      Clearly some of your facts are incorrect, so let me fix that for you…
      1. The book keeper and accountant, was the same person, and this person worked there until last week and was not laid off but rather took a new job. There was also a CFO who worked until 3rd Ward’s closing today. Though many employees were laid off, the the accounts department was not part of that cut. 
      You are correct, teachers were not paid on time, and I think that speaks to 3rd Ward closing, obviously they were in a financial crisis if they weren’t making teacher payments and cutting staff. 
      2. Almost all of the original staff did not make high salaries and were some of the lowest paid employees. 3rd Ward gave the high salaries to all new hires boasting impressive resumes. Ironically, they were the ones who didn’t do much and reaped the financial benefits. And for the record, almost no one from the original staff has worked at 3rd Ward in months. 

      • Hahaha, let me guess, the above is/was a 3rd Ward employee, maybe the owner or the accountant himself. Funny that the “accountant” took a new job a week before the ship sinks, but wasn’t “laid off”. Seems like he was the person that should have been fired along with the owner.

        • Rzvellieux says:

          Agreed, they are pretty shady there. You were correct in your initial post. They basically fired everyone. I stopped being a member last year and hated the way they did business. I ended up teaching with them and saw the real side of the disfunction. The education department was an embarrassing mess.

          I am under the impression that some staff may have known what was happening while others were kept in the dark.

      • Anonymous says:

        As someone who worked there for part of this year, I wouldn’t say anyone at 3rd Ward was put in a position to succeed. It’s also ridiculous to blame employees for the failure of 3rd Ward, management was never able to find a way to make the space turn a profit. For the first several years they survived by throwing parties. And I don’t mean that negatively, it’s great that they found ways to keep the doors open and decided to invest in the space for so long when it wasn’t their primary source of revenue.

        Unless something comes out to show that management was paying themselves exorbitant salaries (I got a high level view of finances while I was there but I never saw a complete balance sheet, e.g. I don’t know what Jason payed himself), I think the narrative here is a failure of management in both finding a business model that works and empowering employees to create success for the company. And this is in spite of a really profound optimism about the role of 3rd Ward in the Brooklyn creative community and that its members and teachers provided amazing contributions. I certainly never saw any cynicism or people actively not doing their jobs while I was there.

        Sometimes things just get mismanaged despite the best of intentions.

        • Rzvellieux says:

          Best of no intentions! No business like 3rd Ward’s in Brooklyn with the reputation and large creative community that exists should go down in this manner. This is all the result of the owner’s overzealousness and desire to become a household name as he proclaimed himself. Expanding to Philly was delusional and stupid! Brooklyn had too many quirks as an institution to expand. If it were simply a labor of love then why expand so much why not just remain focused! If no money could be earned then again why expand.

          They just opened a cafe two months ago which took two years to build basically. Now, they are closed. What about the new woodshop, jewelry studio, metal shop…all of that to then close? This is beyond gross mismanagement. They failed to fine tune. If only they listened to their members and staff.

          You like everyone else in Brooklyn used to work there because they could not keep staff. Now let me ask, which poorly run department did you work in? I used to be a member at 3rd Ward and found the staff to be clueless.

          • Anonymous says:

            You do have a point that the closure is a complete disaster and harmful to all the other parties involved. The way they closed was clueless and potentially devastating.

          • How can you say this? Institutions fail all of the time. Heard of NYC Opera. Not anymore. It’s closing it’s doors because it is out of business. For Pete’s sake, this was hosted at Lincoln Center.

    • THIS is the reason why the school is closing – Jason is a crook …. here is what he has done –
      Jason funneled money to a house he bought in Montauk Point – he did full renovations, threw lavish parties and paid for it, including his wife’s large salary (even though she didn’t work at 3rd Ward anymore) from money taken from 3rd Ward – read this ……


      then read this and see 3rd ward people weren’t the 1st he’s ever screwed –


  2. “3rd Ward is seeking an immediate minimum investment of approximately $1.5 million, and we are asking our community to join us.”

    *Proceeds to list several examples of bad investments*

  3. I can confirm the above comment. A few years ago I walked in, asked to talk to someone about enrollment / new classes, was referred to the website, which despite multiple attempts resulted in ZERO response.

    Recently, after seeing some postings for classes I was interested in the same scenario played out.

  4. Anonymous says:
  5. bushwickshipper says:

    This is sad, I can only hope out of the blue they get an angel investor.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I always wanted to classes here, but they were WAY too expensive. Why pay $450 for a fashion illustration class when you can take one at FIT for $90? Better prices and better/friendly staff along with a business plan could have saved this place.

    • If you take non-degree classes, 1 credit at FIT costs around $250, and fashion illustration class is 3 credits. I have no idea how you managed to pay $90 for your fashion illustration class there.

  7. This is really too bad. I’ve always felt like 3rd Ward was a benefit to the community… in any case, I’d like to offer discounted space at The Yard (either location) for anyone displaced from 3rd Ward… or the recent decision for GA to kill its coworking space… happy to help.


  8. anonymous says:

    Despite some good stuff happening at this place over the years (classes, independent projects, parties, etc), I was always kind of disappointed since there was so much wasted potential here.

    And the core of their explanation quoted above is that they inadvertently altered their pricing and cost themselves, what, hundreds of thousands of dollars?? As dumb as that sounds, I can actually believe it from this place.

  9. 3rd Ward Refugees says:

    If you’re out in the cold due to this, email 3rdwardrefugees@gmail.com so we can organize.

    • Do you know if there is a law suit or any other repercussions against the owner of 3rd ward from it’s closing ?

  10. Sad to hear such an unfortunate story. For those who lost out on membership fees and classes, BKC is offering a 25% discount code (good for 6 months) to any former 3rd Ward member. Just send a photo of your membership card to hello@wearebkc.com

    Hope we can help pick up some of the slack.

  11. We knew this model for art studio wasn’t sustainable, it depended to much on good faith and cash from unestablished or wannabe artist.

  12. let this be a lesson on expansion–it’s best tfor arts organizations to partner with people doing similar work in other markets rather then trying to expand in to those markets. Community organizations are not models which should be franchized, takes away the personal touch and relationships which are necessary.

  13. at least now we can finally stop seeing more of those doofy green bikes around…

  14. jjinbroklyn says:

    Is there any good news coming out of Williamsburg/Bushwick/Greenpoint anymore?

    It’s all:
    a) something good involving art has closed (House of Yes, Zebulon, etc….)
    b) something expensive involving food has opened
    c) more new condos

    • This is why I closed my coworking space, Bitmap Creative Labs, down. With the neighborhood fully gentrified the landlords wanted to double our rent when out lease was up (this past February) and I couldn’t in good conscience charge members more than I was already charging. I believe there’s temporarily a tech startup in the space I personally spent my savings on returning from its warzone-like conditions, and the landlords goal is to turn it into a restaurant when that business (surprise, a mobile app) inevitably goes belly-up.

  15. Thats good…I went to the GLITCH ART class and was the WORST class I have ever taken…He would only show us youtube tutorials which we all have seen before…like any other tutorial on YT….why the hell would I want to pay to watch a YT tutorial on a projector?
    It sucked

  16. Over at the Brainery we’re working on collecting contact info for former 3rd Ward instructors to help hook them up with new gigs teaching around Brooklyn (and not just with us!). Figure it’s better than being left out in the cold!


  17. One time I was asked to be in a photo show at 3rd ward. The theme was Bushwick Artists. I had to go through all the annoying steps to be in the show. When I got there I realized that you had to pay to get into the show (really weird). I checked in and was let in but my boyfriend who came with me had to pay. The entire show was a slideshow of artists taking black and white photos of gentrifying Bushwick. Really really really bad. I sat through the entire photo slide show thinking “this is terrible why did I even agree to do this.” Then at the end of the show I realized they just completely left my work out. My boyfriend had to pay to watch an hour of terrible artists for NOTHING. I will never get that hour back. I hate 3rd ward.

    Also, I should mention they forced everyone to choose music to play with their photos. Seriously the worst night ever. ugh.

  18. I really used to enjoy going there for Drink and Draw. Will miss Joel , the host, and the many beautiful models they had over the years. You didn’t have to be a great artist to go there . Everybody’s work was respected. I’m sure Joel or Adam will continue the drink and draw tradition elsewhere. Hope to see Joel at a drink and draw event in the future.

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  20. Over one year later, we have some followup – http://www.culturalweekly.com/3rd-ward-community-collapse-cost/

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