A fifty year history will include some truly difficult moments, and here’s one we think is important to talk about. In 2011, the longtime creative leadership at Free Street, Ron Bieganski and Anita Evans, were ousted by the board. Soon after, the Executive Director who oversaw this decision, as well as much of the board, also left the company – leaving Free Street with very little institutional memory and in deep structural crisis.
We think it is important to note that when Ron and Anita were asked to leave Free Street, musical director Stone Damon and all the ensemble youth artists left with them in protest. Together, along with former students and former Free Street board members, they founded NeuroKitchen Arts Collective to continue the work they’d be doing. NeuroKitchen continues to explore the process of creative skill building which develops healthy minds. This work was pioneered by Ron and his collaborators at Free Street and continues to evolve at NeuroKitchen. NeuroKitchen and Free Street have a shared history, and the artists who founded NeuroKitchen are the primary holders of Free Street’s story through 2011. They have collected a history of the programs, performances, and artists who were at Free Street in an online archive which can be found here.