Tax Relief Town Hall in Brooklyn 

Hillary Cohen 
5/22/2011 


The Innovative Theater Foundation and the League of Independent Theater sponsored, with our coalition partners A.R.T./New York and Institute for Culture in the Service of Community Sustainability, a Town Hall to discuss property tax relief for NYC non-profit performing arts organizations on May 9th at the Galapagos Art Space in DUMBO.

The arts support and advocacy organizations briefed the small, but participatory, group gathered on how the tax relief initiative is progressing, next steps, and opportunities for direct theater community involvement. A spirited question-and-answer session followed, including encouraging remarks from New York City Councilmember Stephen Levin who sits on the Council’s Land Use committee and represents the neighborhood in which the meeting was held.

While all 12 Manhattan Community Boards have already unanimously passed resolutions in their effort to support “small to mid-sized” non-profit performing arts organizations within their jurisdiction, it is the plan to broaden the proposal. The aim is to secure property tax relief for New York City performing arts organizations, regardless of size, throughout all five boroughs.

Robert Elmes, Founder and Director of Galapagos Art Space, welcomed everyone and Paul Bargetto, Managing Director of Public Affairs for the League of Independent Theater, introduced the host panel. Virginia Louloudes, Executive Director for A.R.T./New York, then described the community-wide format of this initiative and Manhattan Community Board members David Pincus and David Gruber gave a summary of its history to date (see tax relief background link below). They reminded attendees that few Brooklyn Community Boards have art and culture committees to whom the coalition might appeal, unlike their Manhattan counterparts.

Paul Nagel, Executive Director of the Institute for Culture in the Service of Community Sustainability, called for the community to appeal to their community boards, advocate for arts and culture representation on their agendas, and told interested citizens that they can contact David Pincus with questions (chair@theatertaskforce.workshoptheater.org). Hillary Cohen, the Special Projects Manager at the Innovative Theatre Foundation, acknowledged the positive responses the initiative has received from government agencies. For example, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs has said that it would consider such a proposal if more concrete data on the issue could be provided. Katherine Denny, the DCA's Director of Special Projects for Program Services, confirmed their interest. To help answer outstanding questions, and before any legislation can be written, we are asking theater management staff to complete the venue questionnaire.

In concluding the formal presentation, Jeremy Hoffman, State and Broadway’s Senior Government Affairs Consultant, thanked Councilmember Levin and his Community Liaison Rami Metal, Katherine Denny from the DCA, and Lisa Kim from the DUMBO-based Real Estate development company Two Trees Management for attending and participating. He reminded us that this may be a slow, two to three year process, but that strategizing together could save the community millions of dollars as a whole. Our best chance for success, he says, is to engage elected officials on a unified issue that will benefit the largest number of constituent artists.

The panel was very pleased to take questions and comments from the audience. Participants included staff members from the northern Brooklyn dance venue WAX (Williamsburg Art neXus), the Abington Theatre Company, and Horse Trade Theater Group.

RELATED LINKS

Tax Relief Effort Background
Tax Relief Effort FAQ
Does your venue qualify for the tax relief?


 

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