Treehouse Shakers

Treehouse Shakers
Hatched, BAM Fisher, Hillman Studio

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Changing Artistic Landscape

With so much happening in the world, it almost seems unfair to talk about the plight of the artist in New York City. And yet, artists in New York City are facing a real estate struggle. Artists, as a whole, have made NYC a cultural capital, which has brought in millions of dollars in tourism every year. We fill the theaters, the galleries, the schools, the streets, with art. We create jobs. We help to nurture neighborhoods into thriving communities. We give to our community, we create for our community, we bring passion to our communities. We spend countless hours working on our crafts, painstakingly trying to survive an overpriced city. We live here because it is more connected and easier to be an artist than any other city in the U.S. We are surrounded by other artists we can collaborate with, there is a large talent pool to hire from, and overall, we are supported by the general population.

Sunset in Long Island City, Queens
And yet, for as long as I've lived in New York City, artists have been pushed out of their neighborhoods.

Lower East Side.
Chelsea.
SoHo.
Williamsburg.
Red Hook.
Dumbo.
Hell's Kitchen.
Fort Hamilton.

The list goes on and on.

And to be fair this story of change, is the story of NYC. The old is torn down for the new. The poor are pushed out for the rich. The artists move. And the neighborhoods change. And then the pulse of the neighborhood itself, the very heartbeat, disappears.

Green Space. The Building itself is a converted Silk Factory Building.
Long Island City, Queens, is now the place to live. New buildings on every corner, construction trucks blocking the smaller roads. It is a traffic clogging headache. In terms of development, it is one of the busiest neighborhoods in all of New York City, according to data from the Long Island City Partnership.  So, it was not the biggest shocker when Green Space, the studio we have been rehearsing at for the past ten years in Long Island City, increased in rent by 70% this year. The choreographer and Artistic Director that manages the studio, Valerie Green of Dance Entropy, negotiated the rent to an increase of 44%. Which is still a substantive amount. Most of the companies who rent space at Green Space, are dance companies, and have small shoestring budgets. They have already chosen Green Space for its affordability. And space. Treehouse Shakers left Manhattan's overpriced rehearsal spaces; without storage, with noise streaming into every rehearsal wall; for this beautiful light-filled space. When we moved to Green Space, it was a bit farther out, across from the refineries, but completely worth the extra walk from the subway. It still is.

The Refinery Across from our Rehearsal Space
For now, Treehouse Shakers continue to rehearse here. Nervous about where we will be creating in a year from now. Green Space will need to have a big increase in revenue in order to keep the studio doors open. Once again, we are feeling the strain of being an arts organization in New York City.