I attended the meeting for Community Board 4 last night on 17th and 9th Ave. Saw representatives from the Lark, Community Dish, Abingdon, A.R.T/New York, LIT and NYIT Foundation and many others. They were there, along with David Gruber from Community Board 2 and David Pincus, to promote consideration for a proposal to create tax incentives to landlords who discount rental spaces to theaters.
CB4 passed the proposal unanimously.
It was instructive and inspiring. It's been wonderful to watch the community of New York theaters reach out to the community itself and those who care about it most. It was also interesting to learn that the efforts that the Community Boards are making to pass this proposal is actually bring the usually segregated Boards themselves together. The effort is serving two purposes, in that sense. It's helping theater reach out to the community, and building bridges too.
I was also inspired by those citizens who were there for entirely different reasons. There were two guys who showed up to thank the Board for moving traffic off of their block. A passionate guy who showed up to talk about the Transit Authority. A state senator made an appearance (and name dropped Karen Finley). An Assemblywoman. Passionate words were spoken about the financial crisis at St. Vincent's Hospital. A powerpoint was shown about protecting Manhattan from the effects of a hurricane. A local spoke about the school production of Peter Pan.
Most of these people didn't come in an organized group, like we did. They came as individuals, and they spoke up out of a sense of civic duty. Remember: unlike theater folks, most people are terrified of a live microphone. These people overcame whatever standard anxiety might come from public speaking, just to have their say for less than 2 minutes on local issues. They're heroes for their own causes, and I really wanted to cheer for them.
I didn't stay for the entire meeting, but I was mightily moved. I was not not only by the outpouring of effort from our own community - but how our community action fits into a larger context.
Thanks to all who attended.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.