National Sawdust

80 North 6th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Bushwick/East Williamsburg
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(646) 779-8455

Music Venue/Performance Space
Our Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ Great
Cards: All major
Hours: Check Calendar
Booze: Full Bar
Subway: L to Bedford Ave
NY Times says:

National Sawdust, at the busy corner of North Sixth Street and Wythe Avenue, doesn’t give away its secrets all at once. It’s not unheard of, in condo- and design-filled 2015 Williamsburg, to encounter an old factory with some broad windows cut into the brick and a psychedelia-bright mural spreading across one side. At first glance the building could be … a tech firm? An avant-fashion boutique? An indie movie house?

But after you pass through a dark, glossy lobby, the main space comes as a soaring, distinctive surprise, vivid enough to mask the fact that it is, essentially, another black-box theater, which can be configured to fit an audience of 120 to 350. While New York knows black boxes well — a Sawdust competitor, BAM Fisher at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, opened in 2012 — this is a black-and-white box. Designed by the firm Bureau V, the intimate but airy, high-ceilinged space is lined with jagged white textured sound panels, separated to reveal thick black slashes of the wall beneath.

It feels, from the floor, like being in a futuristic forest clearing, and brings to mind what an experimental Brooklyn arts space might look like on a television show, all angular lines and moody lighting. The experience is even more disorienting up in the shallow balcony, with the angles of the walls seeming to stretch and crunch the room as you look at it.

Having raised money for construction costs, National Sawdust claims it will be solidly supported by what it says is a unique model of “philanthropic investors” who bought shares in the building that they can donate back to the nonprofit organization, which inhabits the space rent-free. (This is what you get when your founder, Kevin Dolan, is a tax expert.) Overseen by a creative and executive director, the composer Paola Prestini, and a team of artist-curators, the programming is still intentionally wide-ranging, poised at the intersection of pop, jazz and classical, of America and the world.