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It seems that one big focus of FAB is community outreach—organizing events and gatherings that bring together both the artists who work in this area and the people who live and visit this area. Tell me a little about the upcoming holiday eventâ€¦
It's called the Holiday Happening (December 14), and its being hosted right on East 4th, at 62 East 4th St, at DUO Multicultural Arts Center
. Many of our events spill outside onto the street, but what's fun about this one is all the different things that are going to be happening inside one space. There will be
click to enlarge
open rehearsals with the Rod Rodgers Dance Company
, and then you can move into the theater to see performances by Claire Porter
, a multi-media tribute to Marilyn Monroe, films from the NYC Downtown Short Film Festival
and a whole lot more. It's a coming together of various downtown arts groups, and tickets are only $10, which includes an open bar sponsored by Hornitos tequila. We think it'll be a fun way to meet new people in the community, and give them a taste of all the art that's being created in the East Village.
Since FAB first began in 2003, what has the growth of the organization looked like?
The case has been pretty easy to make to artists through the years, the importance of coming together and working together. Particularly through the recession, since so many of our members operate so close to the margin, more members have joined which has in turn made it even easier for us to operate as a central organizer for this community. We've seen that with more information out there, it actually decreases competitiveness between our groups. We can package together advertising and get the information out there, about all this community has to offer. And what we've seen is that customers who are interested in dance or theater, there's not increased competition between venues, but rather they start going to even more shows. It's a win-win for everyone.
Today, we have 23 members. 16 core members and seven affiliate members. Our ticket booth is open at 61 East 4th, and we continuously offer special deals on shows, like two-for-one tickets to various productions in the neighborhood. Also, people might be noticing some of the new renovation projects underway, that are improving the neighborhood. 62 East 4th Street is in the throws of a major exterior renovation; weâ€™ve also been working on the facades of New York Theater Workshop
, in addition to the construction of their Scenic and Costume Design shop. There area also two new projects that are about to start, and people have probably noticed the completion of the La Mama
Annex building, which had a full exterior renovation this summer.
One by one, things are getting done, and I think the mission here is catching on. If we didn't come together in the first place, these buildings may not have been protected, so it's clear that the more people who get involved, the better the results.
It's obvious that member organizations have been catching on, but how has the recession affected your group in general? Is funding harder to get now than it was a couple years ago?
Thanks to more consistent hours, we're starting to see our ticket booth attract more traffic than ever before, and we've also seen our use of social media networking help people plan their outings to the district. Facebook is becoming a great way for people to RSVP for new events, or at least express their interest for a given show. And beyond that, some donors have really stepped up to help us in recent months. We just received a $10,000 Con-Ed grant for streetscape improvements—which is our initiative to improve the appearance and functioning of the walkways in the district, while trying to keep things in line with what both neighborhood residents and merchants want. That grant came about thanks to a supportive City Council. And so between the city, companies, and our increasing roster of members, it feels like we're going into 2010 stronger than ever.
(photo courtesy Fourth Arts Block)