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At Barclays Center Gala, Scooter Braun Praises Brooklyn’s Diversity In the Trump Era

For supporting the borough's music scene, the Brooklyn Vanguard Award was presented to Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects, whose clients including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Kanye West have…

Five years after hometown superstar JAY-Z played its opening-night concert, Brooklyn’s Barclays Center has become one of the world’s top-grossing arenas and on Oct. 12 it staged a gala celebration honoring individuals for their impact in music, athletics, culinary arts, and environmental sustainability.

For supporting the borough’s music scene, the Brooklyn Vanguard Award was presented to Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects, whose clients including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Kanye West have played multiple shows at the Barclays Center during the past five years.

Braun, who was raised in Greenwich, Conn. and now lives in Los Angeles, acknowledged the depth of his ties to Brooklyn.

“Here’s what I’ll tell you about me and Brooklyn,” said Braun. “My dad, this year, 60 years ago, emigrated to this country as a refugee and lived in a refugee camp in Brooklyn. And he’s here tonight. It’s kind of full circle.”

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As he accepted his honor, Braun told the crowd “it’s an interesting time to be in America right now. And I think it’s a beautiful thing to see so many of us from different backgrounds come together.” Brooklyn’s diversity and history of welcoming newcomers from around the globe is “the America that my family came to this country for.” Then Braun presented his Vanguard Award to his father.

Gala organizers reported that the evening’s celebration, titled Shine A Light On Brooklyn, will benefit the Barclays Center Cares foundation, which supports community programs for children and families through its work with more than 300 schools, food pantries, homeless shelters, health facilities and nonprofits.

“We’re proud to be a part of the Brooklyn community, and it has done such an incredible job embracing us for the past five years,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment in a statement preceding the gala.  (BSE operates the Barclays Center, the newly renovated NYCB Live, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y.; manages and controls the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, as well as the business operations of the NHL’s New York Islanders. The  two teams are the anchor tenants of the Barclays Center.) “Shining a Light on Brooklyn,” continued Yormark, “is our opportunity to celebrate those who have supported our borough and to recognize our collective efforts to give back.”

At the event, Yormark noted that part of the evening’s donations from attendees would fund the renovation of Nicholas Naquan Heyward Jr. Park, adjacent to the Gowanus public housing complex, a mile from the Barclays Center.

DJ Khaled, BSE’s first-ever artist ambassador, couldn’t be in attendance but sent a video of himself auctioning off a special Tidal X package including a meet and greet with him and tickets to the show.

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The gala took place on the Brooklyn waterfront at the historic Liberty Warehouse on Red Hook’s Pier 41. As the sun set over New York harbor during a cocktail hour, Yormark chatted with Charlie Walk, president of the Republic Group. (The two executives in 2014 created an advisory board of nearly 40 top sports, entertainment, and media industry executives to contribute to the programming strategy and direction for Barclays Center and, subsequently, NYCB Live). Also among those enjoying the view was Dmitry Razumov, CEO of Onexim Group, part of the ownership organization of Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment, who was talking with Jon Ledecky, a majority owner of the New York Islanders

“A lot has changed in Red Hook,” joked gala emcee Rosanna Scotto, the New York TV personality (who is also Yormark’s sister-in-law), citing the working-class neighborhood’s newly-found cachet.

Scotto announced the evening’s honorees and their areas of recognition: Brooklyn Botanic Garden president Scot Medbury for sustainability; food and beverage company Levy Restaurants and Junior’s restaurant owner Alan Rosen for culinary arts; and community champion awards to Brooklyn Nets player Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, New York Islanders player Anders Lee, former WBA middleweight boxing champion Daniel Jacobs, WBC international bantamweight champion and undefeated boxer Heather Hardy, Gleason’s Gym owner Bruce Silverglade — with actress Rosie Perez taking the microphone to add her praise for the importance of boxing to Brooklyn culture.

Before a set by DJ Chromeo closed the evening, singer/songwriter and guitarist Leon Bridges played a short but soulful performance that included “River” from his Billboard 200 top ten album Coming Home. Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, and now recording in Los Angeles, Bridges appreciated his chance to visit Brooklyn. “It’s a hip place,” he said.