In 1978 three composers, Jim Staley, David Weinstein and Dan Senn, launched a new music composers’ collective they named Roulette. Weinstein had recently composed Café Roulette, an homage to Dada and to chance operations in music, and the three young founders decided to adopt the name. Perhaps they had some premonition that an organization dedicated to experimental art was a gamble, but they invoked the hazards of chance, embraced the element of risk, and, thirty-four years later, their bet is still paying dividends.
This last year was a breath-taking, nerve-wracking, exhilarating realization of the implications of our name. We moved from a 74 seat loft to a 450 seat theater, doubled our budget, presented over 150 music, dance and Intermedia performances, hosted fifty arts and community organizations, and our audience grew from 4,000 to 21,000. Our audience has expanded globally through Roulette’s Internet programs; people all over the world can explore the treasures of our Archive. Roulette TV programs are now available on BRIC Arts Cable TV in Brooklyn as well as Manhattan Cable. Our Roulette Kids Series encourages the youngest generation to listen and look attentively, and to participate in creative experiment.
Our new theater is an architectural gem with splendid acoustics and superbly equipped — thanks to the generosity of individuals, foundations, corporations, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, Steve Levin, our New York City Council Member, and the New York State Council on the Arts. This season we will install an eight-camera robotic system which will make Roulette one of the few facilities in the city capable of complex videography, instant editing, and live broadcast.
In an astonishingly short time Roulette has become a cultural and social nexus for our neighborhood — the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership identifies Roulette as a keystone organization in its Strategic Plan — and has taken a prominent position in the cultural life of New York City.
Roulette’s community has expanded; our identity is evolving. But as we launch our 2012 Fall season, we are still keenly aware of our founding mission: to support artists through presenting a substantial and diverse program of experimental music, dance and intermedia, commissioning new work, paying the artists professional fees, and finding them an appreciative audience. Now we can give them a theater on a par with the best theaters in New York. We look forward to seeing what they will create for it in the coming season.