Staff of the Highly Respected Art Publication ‘The Brooklyn Rail’ Departs En Masse

The June issue marks a major rupture for the publication.

The cover of the May 2017 issue of the Brooklyn Rail.

Touting itself as “An Independent Forum for Arts, Politics, and Culture,” the Brooklyn Rail has been a fixture in New York for almost two decades. A recent New York Times profile of its co-founder and artistic director, the artist and curator Phong Bui, described the Rail as a leading voice in alternative publishing—though Bui himself said he thought of it less as a publication and more as “a kind of social sculpture made of human activity and connections.”

Well, big changes are afoot in the social fabric of the Rail, according to an announcement from the Rail today:

The independent members of the Board of Directors of the Brooklyn Rail, along with its day-to-day senior staff and six additional full- and part-time staff members, will part ways with the nonprofit publication, effective Friday, May 26, 2017.

Managing Director Sara Christoph was at the Rail for four years, guiding it to an unprecedented period of fiscal stability, initiating a thriving development program, and building the publication’s first structure to compensate all writers for their work. Managing Editor Laila Pedro was at the magazine for two years, overseeing refinements in editorial standards, diversifying coverage, and cultivating new partnerships with artists. Both will pursue independent projects as well as continuing their collaborative work with departing Art Director Maggie Barrett.

The June 2017 issue of the Brooklyn Rail will be the last produced by the current team, and will appear as usual at the beginning of the month.

Founded in 2000, the Brooklyn Rail covers art, culture, and politics. It has been recognized for its autonomously run sections led by passionate editors; its wide-ranging coverage of arts, culture, and politics; and its in-depth interviews with artists.

What incited this “parting of ways” or what it might mean for the future of the publication beyond June was not immediately clear. A member of the staff confirmed the departures, but said simply, “At this point, we don’t really want to comment on specifics.” Bui also did not immediately respond to an inquiry sent to his Rail email address.

Aside from Bui, members of the Brooklyn Rail board listed on the publication’s website are Chris Apgar, Meghan Carleton, John Koegel, Abby Leigh, Will Ryman, and Merrill Wagner.

The publication had long been headquartered in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, but moved to Industry City in Sunset Park in 2015. In recent years, the Rail also began to pay writers, reversing the practice of accepting submissions for free.

We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.

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