BAM’s Karen Brooks Hopkins: Riveting New Book, Star-Studded Photo Gallery of Performing Arts Project

Live Interview February 17 at BAM

Karen Brooks Hopkins, who led the renowned Brooklyn Academy of Music through decades of  transformative growth and international influence, has shared her memories and insights in a powerful new book, BAM. . . and Then It Hit Me.

Published by Powerhouse Books, the work will be promoted on a worldwide tour sponsored by the Onassis Foundation and beginning ‘right at home where it all started.’ Hopkins will be interviewed live this week at BAM by Oskar Eustis, the Artistic Director of New York’s Public Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 17.

Hopkins’ memoir is an exhilarating romp through the evolution of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, one of Brooklyn’s most historic and enduring  cultural institution, and an inside look at how it grew to exert considerable influence on theater, opera, dance, and film worldwide.

Karen Brooks Hopkins. Photo courtesy of BAM.

BAM. . . and Then It Hit Me is filled with riveting stories and historical photos from the institution’s remarkable array of performances over the years, as well as backstage drama, wildly ambitious fundraising schemes, and blazing moments of artistic glory. In the book, Hopkins recounts witty anecdotes and breathtaking close calls with iconic artists such as Laurie Anderson, Pina Bausch, Ingmar Bergman, Peter Brook, Hillary Clinton, Chuck Davis, Jeremy Irons, Dr. John, Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Spike Lee, Annie Leibovitz, Roy Lichtenstein, LL Cool J, Sam Mendes, Mark Morris, José Parla, Robert Redford, Paul Simon, Mavis Staples, John Turturro, Rufus Wainwright, Robert Wilson, and more. Readers will revel in the front-row-seat experience of the ups, downs, successes, and global reputation-building of the world-famous cultural center.

Oskar Eustis, who will interview Hopkins on Feb. 17. Photo courtesy of BAM.

BAM. . . and Then It Hit Me also provides insight into the phenomenal not-for-profit fundraising strategies and initiatives Hopkins developed for BAM, and offers an expert primer for sustainable arts and non-profit leadership and management. Hopkins shares the outreach and engagement strategy she employed, in collaboration with fellow arts leaders, in the creation of the Brooklyn Cultural District, which not only contributed to the dramatic evolution of a neighborhood, but also doubled down on the vast borough of which it is part, championing its cultural richness and establishing Brooklyn as a global brand.

In the book, Hopkins explains how arts and culture are a powerful tool for the development of dynamic, inclusive communities, and of socially and economically vibrant cities. BAM. . . and Then It Hit Me features more than three hundred seventy color and black-and-white photographs, documenting the greatest moments in BAM’s history, and the glittery, culture-making highlights of the legendary performances during Hopkins’ phenomenal tenure there, paired with stories that are shared with the public for the first time.

BAM. . . and Then It Hit Me is also be available via Audible, as an audiobook.

The Tour

Over the coming months, Hopkins undertakes an extensive international book tour supported by the Onassis Foundation, on whose Board she serves, and for whom she serves as Senior Advisor for the U.S. cultural activities. 

Events include:

February 17, 2022
7:30pm
Brooklyn, NY
BAM Harvey
In conversation with Oskar Eustis, Artistic Director of the Public Theater

March 27, 2022
4:30pm
Washington, DC
Poets and Busboys
In conversation with Carla Perlo, Founding Artistic Director of Dance Place

March 30, 2022
6:30pm
Newark, NJ
NJPAC

March 31, 2022
6pm
New York, NY
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

April 6, 2022
4:30pm
Dallas, TX
Southern Methodist University

April 13, 2022
4:30pm
New Haven, CT
David Geffen School of Drama at Yale and Yale School of Management

April 14, 2022
6pm
Hudson, NY
Hudson Hall

May 6, 2022
7pm
London, England
Lyttelton Theatre, National Theatre, UK

May 10, 2022
7pm
Milan, Italy
Piccolo Teatro de Milan

May 19, 2022
Vaduz, Liechtenstein
In conversation with Paul Holdengraber, Founding Executive Director of Onassis LA

May 25, 2022
Time TBA
Athens, Greece
Onassis Stegi Center

Dates continue to be added. For the latest itinerary, and for more information, please visit https://kbhbooktour.com/

More About Karen Brooks Hopkins:

Karen Brooks Hopkins is president emerita of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, where she worked for 36 years, including 16 as its president. As president, Hopkins oversaw the institution’s 230 full-time employees and its multiple theaters and cinemas, ranging from the 2,100-seat Howard Gilman Opera House to the flexible 250-seat Fishman Space.

John Turturro says of her, “Working at BAM has been a highlight of my theater career…Karen is one of those people who generously gives of their energy, humanity, enthusiasm, and intelligence—always encouraging you to think big.” Isabella Rossellini attests, “Karen created a feeling of a family, of belonging to a community of artists. She opened a new chapter in my life.”

Hopkins has served as the chair of the Cultural Institutions Group, has been a member of the mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, the New York State Board of Regents, and on the Boards of NYC & Company, the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, and currently serves on the Trust for Governors Island.

Hopkins was appointed Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star for her work done with the Royal Dramatic Theater of Sweden, named Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France, and awarded the King Olav’s Medal by Norway. She was designated a “Woman of Achievement” by the professional association Women in Development in 2013 and named one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York” by Crain’s New York Business.

Among the many honors BAM has received during her tenure is the 2013 National Medal of Arts, the highest award given to artists and arts organizations by the U.S. government. President Obama presented the medal to Hopkins at a White House ceremony in 2014. In 2015, Hopkins was one of ten esteemed business leaders appointed to the inaugural Crain’s Hall of Fame. Her widely read book, Successful Fundraising for Arts & Cultural Organizations, is currently in its second edition.

A graduate of the University of Maryland, she received her MFA from George Washington University in Washington, DC. She has received honorary degrees from St. Frances College, Pratt Institute, Long Island University, and a prestigious honorary Doctor of Laws from Columbia University.

Following her retirement from BAM in June 2015, Hopkins served as the Inaugural Senior Fellow in Residence at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, adviser to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, board member of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, senior adviser to and board member of the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, and as the Nasher Haemisegger Fellow at SMU DataArts.


Take a walk down memory lane. Karen Brooks Hopkins and BAM photo gallery:

Karen Brooks Hopkins and Isabella Rossellini. Photo: Elena Olivo
Sally Field, Karen Brooks Hopkins, and Robert Redford. Photo: Stephen Lovekin
Karen Brooks Hopkins, Patrick Stewart, Sunny Ozell, and Joseph V. Melillo. Photo: Etienne Frossard
Bruce Ratner, Philip Glass, Karen Brooks Hopkins, Laurie Anderson.
Philip Glass, Joseph v. Melillo, Steve Reich, and Karen Brooks Hopkins. Photo: Elena Olivo
Alan Rickman, Karen Brooks Hopkins, and John Turturro. Photo: Courtesy BAM Hamm Archives
Karen Brooks Hopkins and Peter Brook. Photo Gerry Goodstein
Scene from the Lee Breuer/Bob Telson production “The Gospel at Colonus” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 1983. Photo: Martha Swope,
© The New York Public Library
Poster for the Laurie Anderson production “United States: Parts I – IV” during BAM Next Wave Series, 1983. Courtesy BAM Hamm Archives.
Scene from the Peter Brook/Jean-Claude Carriere production “The Mahabharata” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 1987. Photo: Gilles Abegg
Scene from the Peter Brook/Jean-Claude Carriere production “The Mahabharata” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 1987. Photo: Gilles Abegg
David Byrne and Robert Wilson preparing for their production “The Forest” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 1988. Photo: Gerhard_Kassner
Scene from South Africa’s Market Theatre production “Sacrifice of Mmbatho: Daughter of Nebo” during BAM Spring Series, 1994. Photo: Ruphin Coudyzer
Poster for South Africa’s Market Theatre production “Sacrifice of Mmbatho: Daughter of Nebo” during BAM Spring Series, 1994. Courtesy BAM Hamm Archives.
Poster for South Africa’s Market Theatre production “Sacrifice of Mmbatho: Daughter of Nebo” during BAM Spring Series, 1994. Courtesy BAM Hamm Archives.
Scene from “DanceAfrica 2011: Expressions and Encounters: African, Cuban, and American Rhythms” during the BAM Spring Series, 2011
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Karen Brooks Hopkins, and Jeremy Irons during the BAM Fisher Building Inauguration, 2012. Photo: Etienne Frossard
Kate Moran and Helga Davis in the Robert Wilson/Philip Glass production “Einstein on the Beach” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 2012. Photo: Stephanie Berger
Helga Davis in the Robert Wilson/Philip Glass production “Einstein on the Beach” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 2012. Photo: Stephanie Berger
Bart Slegers and Gijs Scholten van Aschat in the dress rehearsal for “Coriolanus” part of the Toneelgroep Amsterdam production “Roman Tragedies” during the BAM Next Wave Festival, 2012. Photo: Richard Termine
Scene from the Ivo van Hove/Toneelgroep production “Kings of War” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 2016. Photo: Richard Termine
Scene from the Ivo van Hove/Toneelgroep production “Kings of War” during BAM Next Wave Festival, 2016. Photo: Richard Termine
Karen Brooks Hopkins and Spike Lee. Photo: Courtesy BAM Hamm Archives
(L to R) Mikhail Baryshnikov, actor & choreographer, Robert Wilson, director, and Willem Dafoe, actor
Karen Brooks Hopkins and Peter Brook.

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