NYC Communities Need Small Theatre 

submitted by David Pincus & Paul Woods Bartlett 
8/14/2009 


Once a year all of New York's Community Boards submit a list of their District "Needs" to the City. This year, the Arts and Theater Tasks Forces of CB3 and CB4 worked together in crafting their texts which included strong support for small theatre and arts spaces. Below are the Arts & Culture statements submitted by CB3 and CB4.

CB3 District Needs: Fiscal Year 2011


Arts & Cultural Affairs

Our district has long been a historic incubator and concentration of performing and visual arts. The arts serve as an important means of expression, preservation and exploration of our diverse community and culture. Tragically, the district has lost much of its arts venues in the last decade due to real estate competition and speculation, resulting in spaces constructed or renovated at substantial cost to be repurposed and irretrievably lost. However our district remains an important viable center for the arts experiencing a resurgence in artistic productions despite a dwindling venue supply.

District arts venues remain closely tied to our diverse culture and balance the scales of gentrification. Cultural venues clearly have a synergetic relationship with neighborhood small businesses, and are economic drivers to our local neighborhoods.In addition the arts are crucial to the cultural and economic resilience and diversity of our unique community. There exists innovative policies (land use, tax, public buildings, capital support) to sustain and retain theater and other performance venues that other cities and states have successfully used. CB3 calls on City agencies to include commercial and nonprofit arts venues and organizations in its economic development policies.

CB4 District Needs: Fiscal Year 2011


Arts & Cultural Affairs

Manhattan Community District 4 has long been a historic incubator of the performing and visual arts in New York City, especially as it concerns the small to mid-sized theatre community. In fact over 40% of theater space in New York City that serves independent theaters (under 99 seats) is located within the confines of CB4 (New York Innovative Theater Foundation, 2008). Unfortunately, those numbers are declining rapidly as our district has lost many of its arts venues in just the past two years due to real estate competition and speculation, resulting in theater and other art/dance/music performance spaces being repurposed at substantial cost and irretrievably lost to the community.

In fact, the rapid commercial and residential development, over the past decade of many of our community's lightly populated blocks can be credited, in part, to those small artistic non-profits which have brought so much street life and economic vitality to our neighborhoods. Arts organizations have historically been the commercial pioneers of under-utilized areas of New York City. They become successful, which in turn makes the neighborhoods they moved to compelling to real estate developers. Unfortunately, the same arts organizations that attract new residents and businesses are often squeezed out by the very gentrification they created.

However our district still remains an important and viable center for the expression, preservation and exploration of our diverse community through the arts. There still is major concern on our part about the reduction of civic funding and other administrative support for small arts organizations which have heroically survived and maintained a creative home in our district despite increasing obstacles placed in front of them, i.e., drops in contributed income, reduction of grants, etc.

There exist innovative policies (land use, tax, public buildings, capital support) that other cities and states have successfully used to sustain and retain their theater and other arts performance/viewing/rehearsal venues. CB4 is working closely with our electeds and other private organizations including the Fashion BID for the preservation of theater space during the Garment Center rezoning; and through the ULURP process for the inclusion of performance and rehearsal space in the planning and design of the Hudson Yards Project that would positively affect a wide range of our local arts organizations.

Cultural venues clearly have a synergetic relationship with neighborhood small businesses, and are economic drivers to our local neighborhoods. In addition the arts are crucial to the cultural resilience and diversity of our unique community.

CB4 calls on all City agencies to work with Community Board 4 and other commercial and nonprofit arts venues and organizations as they formulate and effectuate economic development policies that will achieve the common objective of fostering the preservation and prospering of those arts organizations which have already made and will continue to make vital and lasting contributions to our community.

David M. Pincus, Chair, Theater Task Force, Community Board 4
Paul Woods Bartlett, Chair, Arts Task Force, Community Board 3



 

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