The Playgoer: What Happened to Arts at Ground Zero?

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

What Happened to Arts at Ground Zero?

I'm sorry but Ray Nagin was right about the embarassing "hole in the ground" still sitting there in lower Manhattan--a tribute not to the victims of 9/11 but to the greed and pettiness of real estate moguls and a city & state government beholden to them.

Rob Kendt has an interesting piece in today's Times that addresses the confusing consequences all the "development" in the area has had for theatre companies once promised space.

For arts organizations, progress at the World Trade Center site has so far resembled a Beckett play: waiting and disappointment, followed by more waiting and disappointment. Opposition from victims’ relatives and political fighting have meant that none of the dreamed-of cultural projects has broken ground. And now that the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has been disbanded, arts groups are more worried than ever that the planned performing arts center and $7 million worth of federal arts grants will remain on paper.

Kendt focuses on one intrepid company, 3-Legged Dog. Read all about 'em.

Some insightful quotes Rob gets:
“The experimental arts in New York are in dire jeopardy right now,” [3-Legged Dog's Kevin] Cunningham said... "What’s alarming is that if the experimental tradition dies in New York, where it’s been rampant since the 20’s, we’re going to lose our identity even more than we already have,’’ Mr. Cunningham said. “I’m not talking about the Disneyfication of Times Square. I’m talking about a core thing that brings new brains to the city.’’

And from Tom Healy, president of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council...
“If as a city we thought about investing public dollars in a corridor of new explorations, incubators of new cultural activity, that’s a far wider investment than the $50 million that’s supposedly been put aside for a major concert hall,” he said. “What 3LD represents is a more organic way of making the arts part of rebuilding downtown.”

What most arts org's need is not fifty million dollars but fifty thousand. And that $50 mil could be split up into a thousand of those.

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