Activation of Theatre Space at Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center Will Bring Additional Arts and Culture to Local Community
New York City, November 17, 2011 – New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the selection of the Julia de Burgos Arts Alliance (JdBAA) to lease and program the theatre and multi-purpose event space at the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center (Julia de Burgos) in East Harlem. JdBAA will provide over 1,700 hours of cultural, arts, and community programming in its first year of operating the spaces, with nearly 700 hours of the programming specifically planned for the previously underutilized theatre space. As part of its lease, JdBAA has also agreed to a community access plan which will ensure that the community has maximum opportunity to experience the arts, cultural, and community activities at Julia de Burgos.
“Today’s selection is a major step forward in our efforts to ensure the future viability of this historic cultural center,” said NYCEDC President Seth W. Pinsky. “As Mayor Bloomberg has repeatedly said, improving New Yorkers’ quality of life is sound economic development policy. By supporting and fostering important institutions such as Julia de Burgos for the benefit of community members and community organizations, we are making East Harlem an even more attractive place in which to live, work, and grow a business. I would like to thank the Julia de Burgos Arts Alliance for their commitment to this neighborhood as well as our City.”
“This is a great day for the cultural community of El Barrio,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center will move one step closer to fulfilling its original vision as a vibrant, active space that will benefit all members of our community. I stand in strong support of the decision made by the Economic Development Corporation regarding the future of the Center and thank them for their hard work on the RFEI process. I also thank all of the cultural organizations that make up the incredible partnership that will now operate in this space and look forward to seeing all of the exciting programming that they have planned for our community.”
“Expanded programming by the Julia de Burgos Arts Alliance will insure that dynamic cultural organizations are part of the Julia de Burgos Center’s commitment to vibrant art, creativity and service to the community,” said Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin.
“Community Board 11 looks forward to working with the new operator and the Economic Development Corporation to ensure that fair and equal access is granted to all potential users, capturing the original vision of the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center as a space available to all to promote the cultural depth, richness and history of the East Harlem Community,” said Matthew S. Washington, Chair, Manhattan Community Board 11.
“The Julia de Burgos Center is an outstanding asset for the residents of El Barrio,” said Kenneth J. Knuckles, President & CEO of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp. (UMEZ) “We are delighted to know that the space will be filled with a variety of cultural activities and organizations, particularly through the community access plan, which will highlight the extraordinary talents of the neighborhood.”
The selection of JdBAA to operate the theatre and event space at Julia de Burgos is the result of a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) issued by NYCEDC in September 2010. The goal of the RFEI was to further activate Julia de Burgos with additional programming, increase access for local community organizations, and to strengthen local arts and cultural organizations. Activation of the theatre space was a top priority of the RFEI, which up until now, had been underutilized.
JdBAA is comprised of local East Harlem groups East River North Renewal, and Los Pleneros de la 21, as well as The Hispanic Federation. East River North is a nonprofit housing development program in East Harlem that for the past five years has organized and sponsored a summer season of live music performances and domino tournaments at the outdoor plaza of La Marqueta. Los Pleneros is a performing arts organization that has occupied space at Julia de Burgos since 1999. The Hispanic Federation, a national organization whose mission includes advancing the public affairs objectives of the Latino community and its network of institutions, also has strong local ties, having helped launch the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance in 2007.
JdBAA will join existing tenants to provide increased cultural programming in the space, which presently includes Taller Boricua/Puerto Rican Workshop, Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, The Heritage School, as well as Los Pleneros de la 21. JdBAA also plans to collaborate with a number of other local arts and cultural groups to offer additional programming. Some organizations that have already expressed interest include: Afterdark CATV PRO, El Teatro Moderno Puertorriqueno, Puertorriquenos Unidos, Teatro Moderno, Pregones, Teatro SEA and the Caribbean Cultural Center.
As part of the RFEI process, NYCEDC worked closely with Community Board 11 to develop a Community Engagement Access Plan for the space. The access plan will be part of the lease and will ensure that the community has maximum opportunity to experience the cultural activities at Julia de Burgos, and that there will be readily available guidelines and fee schedules for those who want to utilize the space.
Julia de Burgos is located at 1680 Lexington Avenue in East Harlem. The 2,800-square-foot event space is located on the first floor, with the 4,300-square-foot, 160 seat, theatre space above. Built in 1879 as a public school, Julia de Burgos is an approximately 60,000-square-foot five story landmarked building located in East Harlem. The Building has been historically occupied by cultural tenants and a school.