Tax Abatement Proposal passed at All 12 Community Boards 

David Pincus 



NEW YORK - May 26, 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 council members, 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 New York City cultural community (including art support agencies Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York [A.R.T./New York], Innovative Theater Foundation and League of Independent Theaters ) 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 this proposal's legislative prospects, send an email to David M. Pincus, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 4’s Theater Task Force / Managing Director, WorkShop Theater Company: with the words “Subscribe me” in the Title.

 *** (Innovative Theater Foundation, 2009 Study


ART/NY, New York Innovative Theatre Foundation and the League of Independent Theaters 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.


Tax Credit to Benefit Off-Off-Broadway 1/22/2010
Tax Abatement Proposal Makes Progress 2/2/2010
Tax Abatement Help on the Way for Neighborhood Theatres by Serena Solomon 1/28/10
Arts & Culture committees Create Alliance to Craft Innovative Solutions for NYC Theatres in Crisis on Broadway World 1/21/10
Movement Seen for Tax-Break Plan for NYC Landlords Leasing Space to Artists by Leonard Jacobs 1/20/10
Manhattan Community Boards Join Forces on Off-Off-Broadway Proposal by Thomas Reimschneider, Back Stage 1/21/10


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