Tuesday, May 25, 2010

12 out of 12 boards agree


NEW YORK - May 24, 2010 - Manhattan Community Board 10 (Central Harlem) recently became the 12th out of 12 Manhattan Community Boards which voted (at the full board level) in support of a resolution calling on New York City and New York State elected officials to create through legislation a targeted property-tax abatement that would help remedy the current fiscal and real estate crises which are endangering “core” small to mid-sized non-profit theaters and other non-profit performing arts organizations throughout New York City.
In addition, this innovative proposal has earned the support of Manhattan’s Borough Board, a body chaired by Manhattan Borough President Stringer that consists of the Manhattan’s community boards and city councilmembers, who meet monthly to discuss issues of importance facing the Borough of Manhattan.
When informed of this Community Board development, Oscar winner Olympia Dukakis said, “As a person who has run and operated a small theater for many years, I salute the Manhattan Community Boards for working together so ingeniously on such a confounding problem!”

In Manhattan, approximately 50 “core” theaters provide access to affordable performance space for over 400 small theater companies (commonly known as Off-Off B'way) and many other performing arts organizations***. This community board effort seeks to incentivize landlords to offer longer leases at below market rates to these core set of venues. The entire sector depends on low cost space, which makes risk-taking and incubation of new work and new talent possible. The proposal presumes that New York City’s viability is tied to the arts and that the vitality of New York City’s entire performing arts sector is at stake.

Engaging the support of the community boards of the other four NYC boroughs is the next objective of this Manhattan community board alliance. To that end, the staffs of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and Council Speaker Christine Quinn are assisting the cultural community (including art support agencies: Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York [A.R.T./New York], Innovative Theater Foundation and League of Independent Theater) and the Manhattan Community Boards in their efforts to connect with city resources and other contacts that will be helpful in reaching out to the other boroughs; and in the collection of information concerning those "core" theaters which will be affected by this proposal. That all the Manhattan Community Boards have been successful so far in working with each other and many of New York City’s elected officials serves as a sign that this proposal is engendering legitimate public support

At the first ever Public Forum on the State of Small to Mid-Sized Theaters held on February 17, 2009 at the world famous theatre club, The Players’, organized and presented by Manhattan Community Boards 1-5, Borough President Scott Stringer challenged the overflow crowd of more than 300 individuals (who represented the majority of small to mid-sized theater companies in NYC) to come up with innovative solutions their elected officials could advocate for. The Manhattan Community Boards have taken that mandate seriously and have met many times in public sessions over the ensuing months to discuss innovative solutions to deep-rooted problems facing the sector. This resolution which has garnered unanimous support of all 12 Manhattan Community Boards and the Manhattan Borough Board is a significant achievement.
Robert Lyons, Artistic Director of the embattled Ohio Theater says, "Congratulations to the Manhattan community boards for recognizing both the micro-economic functions of the arts in our neighborhoods as well as their macro-economic development benefits to NYC."
To receive more information, learn of new developments and how you can support its legislative prospects, send an email to David M. Pincus, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 4’s Theater Task Force / Managing Director, WorkShop Theater Company: david@workshoptheater.org with the words “Subscribe me” in the Title.
*** (Innovative Theater Foundation, 2009 Study www.nyitawards.com/survey)

ART/NY (www.art-newyork.org), New York Innovative Theatre Foundation (www.nyitawards.com) and the League of Independent Theater (www.litny.org) offer their full support to the New York City Community Boards on this important issue. We are inspired by the dedication and camaraderie of the community boards and encourage members of the Off-Off-Broadway and small-to-mid-sized non-profit performing arts community to participate in upcoming meetings regarding this matter.

Monday, May 17, 2010

3LD in trouble

The Metropolitan Transit Authority has threatened to evict the experimental media and theater group 3-Legged Dog from its Lower Manhattan building. The authority notified the group on Friday that it would begin eviction proceedings on Monday if 3-Legged Dog did not pay the more than $306,000 it owes the authority in back rent and interest. The group signed a 20-year lease in 2002 for space at 80 Greenwich Street, now known as 3LD Art & Technology Center, agreeing to pay $21,666.67 per month there after its former location at 30 West Broadway was destroyed in the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, The Wall Street Journal reported. Kevin Cunningham, 3-Legged Dog’s executive artistic director, confirmed that the company had fallen behind in payments when foundations withdrew financial support because of the recession. He also said the theater had been forced to spend its own money on building maintenance, including asbestos abatement, without reimbursement from the authority. Though he said he had offered to negotiate a payment plan, the two companies have been unable to reach an agreement. The authority’s spokesman, Jeremy Soffin, told The Journal, “I don’t know how anyone can justify letting this tenant rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in back rent at a time when state cuts and deteriorating tax revenues have forced the M.T.A. to lay off station agents and cut service.”

And this is Kevin Cunningham in a comment on Mathew Freeman's excellent blog On Theatre and Politics, www.matthewfreeman.blogspot.com:

If you want to help get the word out that 3LD is open and booked into 2012. The real story is that the MTA owes us $1.6 million in construction costs and reimbursement from our build out of their facility which sat empty for a decade before 3LD turned it into an internationally recognized arts center. They have been very arrogant and have ignored our demands for payment since we first made them in March of 2005. Write your elected officials and tell them to make MTA do the right thing and repay 3LD. Write to the news outlets and demand that they print our side of the story. Donations always help when hard times hit. 3LD is not alone unfortunately. The City and the Funding community are going to have to change their priorities or there will be many more stories like this in the very near future.