Creating a ‘Sixth Borough’ community

Creating a ‘Sixth Borough’ community

Teaneck concert to showcase local creativity

Open mike night at the studio in Fairview
Open mike night at the studio in Fairview

If you enjoy the show at Teaneck’s Votee Park bandshell this Sunday night — August 9 — take a minute to tip your hat to Nobo Wine and Grill down the road.

As Josh Passaretti tells it, waiting tables at the high-end kosher eatery brought together three of the core team members of the Bergen County Neighborhood Network, the nonprofit entity that is putting on the “Come Up” arts festival.

The Network is trying to create an arts community around the converted warehouse in Fairview that is its studio and performance space. (Its parent company, Sixth Borough Media, uses the space as well.)

The Votee Park show will feature the top performers from the regular shows that the network puts on in Fairview and streams at There’s the weekly variety show, less frequently scheduled storytelling and poetry nights, and even “live art battles” where artists paint onstage.

At the Teaneck show, “we’ll have a comedian, a rapper, a flute player, poets, one band, two DJs, and three story tellers. And three people doing a live art installation the entire time,” Mr. Passaretti said.

If this sounds more hipster Brooklyn then suburban Bergen County — well, Sixth Borough Media makes its ambitions known in its name.

For the Tuesday night shows, would-be performers register on Sixth Borough’s website, and a talent coordinator makes the final choice.

Josh Passaretti
Josh Passaretti

“We started just pulling from friends,” Mr. Passaretti said. “We’ve gotten to the point where we’ve had people who were featured on Afropunk and BET, up-and-coming artists. We’re starting to get people we never met before coming through the doors.

“We also have an after show. The other day, we had a beat boxer come, a dude who played the flute got on stage, and someone playing the guitar. It was all impromptu, and something magical to be around.”

Often people come to see their friends perform at variety shows and then they leave, he said, but “our community comes for the entire show. We’re building a community that enjoys the atmosphere, everybody we put on.”

Mr. Passaretti, 26, is from Teaneck. He celebrated becoming bar mitzvah at Temple Emeth, and he graduated from college with a marketing degree. Now he works on post-production editing for the studio, which has done some projects for ESPN, as well as commercials and music videos. Video editing began as a hobby for him. The studio offers production workshops to train people in broadcast skills.

“We’re trying to create producers who can learn with us,” he said. “We had a lot of friends who were overeducated, and didn’t have what to do. We taught them how to produce shows for live broadcasts.”

Mr. Passaretti said his facility provides tools to help would-be filmmakers. “In college, you could go and check out a camera,” he said. “You can’t do that once you’re out of college. We try to empower our people to start things.” The community center is an important piece of that. “Anybody can come through and put in as much or as little work as possible,” he said.

Now the network is working on a fund­raising campaign. Mr. Passaretti and his colleagues want to “move to a larger space, buy more equipment, train more people.”

And for that project, his year at Nobo may come in particularly useful.

“It was always about customer service and upselling,” he said. “That’s how you get tips.

“You have to be able to present yourself, and we definitely learned a great deal about that.”

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