By Brian J. Pape, AIA, LEED-AP

The Community Board Two of Manhattan (CB2) has announced the creation of an Arts Advisory Panel Task Force to organize new community rehearsal space. Recognizing the pressing need for these spaces for theater, dance, music, and other arts groups, CB2 has negotiated very low-cost, nearly free, rehearsal space at the Aurora Capital Group’s property at 60-74 Gansevoort Street.

The Manhattan Community Board 2 (CB2) Arts Advisory Panel is facilitating a new community rehearsal space and is seeking an organization to administer the program (with building ownership for more than 1500 sq. ft.) at 60-74 Gansevoort Street. Credit: Brian J. Pape.

The first organizational Zoom meeting, on March 22nd, was led by David Gruber, the task force chair. He acknowledged the efforts and leadership of CB2 Chair Carter Booth and Erik Bottcher of Cory Johnson’s city council office, and the long-term efforts for CB2 of the late Elaine Young.

The Gansevoort Benefit Space was described by developer partner Jared Epstein of Aurora Capital Group. Hopefully, this program will hopefully serve as a model of public/private cooperation on a true local neighborhood basis in the interest of the performing arts.

Explaining what the program might look like at the outset, and the roles of the master leaseholder (ML) and CB2 in the process, the community board and task force will be selecting a “qualifying tenant” or an ML. While the ML need not be located or headquartered in the confines of CB2, the clear preference is to have the theater groups that avail themselves of the rehearsal spaces perform in theaters in and immediately around our CB2 community.

To get this process started, an RFP (request for proposal) will be created and posted on the CB2 website and also sent to any potential qualifying tenants or master tenants who may wish to apply. A qualifying tenant, with a track record of stability and solvency, will actually be the umbrella organization to administer the program and sign the lease (for more than 1,500 sq. ft.) with the building ownership.

It’s envisioned that this ML (“master tenant”) will in turn sublet to small theater and performing arts groups that typically create/produce in spaces with no more than 99 seats, for short- term rehearsal use, at a very nominal fee.

The space will be available for 24/7 use. It will not be intended as a backup rehearsal space for a single theater entity or as a performance venue, but to a roster of independent theatre groups and/or independent performing artists, with priority for those already located within CB2, or with a history of service in and to CB2.

The selection process will be transparent and open to the public, with appropriately advertised notices. 

The Gansevoort space is projected to be ready in the early fall of 2021. This exciting prospect comes at a propitious time, when our arts organizations are looking to refresh their previous activities after more than a year of pandemic lockdowns.

Brian J. Pape is a LEED-AP “green” architect consulting in private practice, serves on the Manhattan District 2 Community Board Landmarks Committee and Quality of Life Committee, is co-chair of the American Institute of Architects NY Design for Aging Committee, is a member of the AIANY Historic Buildings Committee, and is a journalist who specializes in architecture subjects.

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