New York, NY (September 5, 2017)—Berklee has acquired Avatar Studios and, with the support of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), will renovate the 53rd Street facility and transform it into BerkleeNYC.
Berklee plans to continue operating the studio commercially as the re-christened Power Station at BerkleeNYC, restoring the name established by original owner, legendary studio designer Tony Bongiovi. Preserving and modernizing the facility—the last recording studio in New York that can accommodate a full orchestra or live Broadway cast album recording—will also allow Berklee to expand its mission of nurturing promising musicians while engaging in meaningful community outreach.
Over the years, artists like Bruce Springsteen, Paul Simon, Herbie Hancock, Tony Bennett, Lady Gaga, David Bowie, Madonna, Pat Metheny, Bob Dylan, the cast of Hamilton, and many others recorded iconic albums at the facility, but market forces results in the studio going on the market in 2015. In recent years, numerous major New York recording studios have shuttered, including Sony Music, The Hit Factory, The Magic Shop and others, but Avatar has avoided that fate. BerkleeNYC, with funds from MOME and the EDC, will host both free and tuition-based educational programs, performances, and resources for local musicians and will also feature a virtual reality/augmented reality studio.
“Renovating this amazing, historic music venue is a powerful nod to New York City as a continuing center for innovative art, culture, and creativity. I commend Berklee and Trustee Pete Muller for their investments, their vision, and for the public programming space that will benefit many budding and future New York recording artists,” said Mayor de Blasio.
This year, Mayor de Blasio announced his New York Works jobs plan, which includes a focus on investing in the arts and cultural sectors—enormous employers and drivers of economic activity. MOME recently expanded its portfolio to include music, marking the first time a City agency has ever had the mandate to support the industry. A recent study commissioned by MOME revealed that, in the past 15 years and due to seismic shifts in the music industry, New York City has lost a dramatic number of recording studios and related jobs. Reinvigorating this sector is a priority of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin.