January 27, 2017
Honorable Tom Finkelpearl
New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
31 Chambers St #201
New York, NY 10007
Dear Commissioner Finkelpearl:
We must come together as a City to increase safety of independent cultural spaces while not displacing vulnerable community members. In an expensive city such as New York, operating legitimate art spaces requires more financial capital than many individual artists can afford. Independent cultural spaces are integral to the health of our city as thriving and democratic.
Preserving community spaces during this uncertain political and economic time is essential. We recommend the distinguishing of “safe” from “legally permitted” spaces whereby alternative/DIY spaces can operate safely regardless of legal permission. The criminalization, shutdown, and loss of alternative/DIY spaces will only push the DIY community further “underground” and into other unsafe buildings and environments. New York City’s alternative/DIY public spaces are critical and life-saving to the city’s cultural activities and the artists they support.
The creation of funding and facilitation of in-kind opportunities for independent cultural spaces to make safety improvements in a reasonable and timely manner.
The creation of an independent task force separate from the DOB/FDNY that can assist independent cultural spaces to identify improvements that need to be made. There needs to be confidentiality here to reduce fear of retaliation.
The creation of a liabilities and legalities consultant that can support and help independent cultural spaces understand and implement the nuances and complexities of insurance and liability so that spaces can remain legal, learn how to manage risk, and not be forced to close after liability related events.
We are heartbroken and have lost loved ones in Oakland’s Ghost Ship Tragedy. Safety is our primary concern and we have worked to ensure the safety of our independent cultural spaces. This period of mourning is also a time to support, protect, and help independent cultural spaces to thrive.
We look forward to your support and we welcome further conversation.
NYC Artist Coalition