October 29, 2010
Seth Pinsky
President
NYC Economic Development Corporation
110 William Street
New York, NY 10038

Dear Mr. Pinsky:

At our Full Board meeting held October 19, 2010, Community Board 11 voted to request the NYC Economic Development Corporation take the necessary steps to more fairly and transparently address the needs of the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center. The Board voted 26 in favor, 6 opposed, with 4 abstentions, to request EDC take the following actions:

1. Immediately stop the RFEI process and rescind the RFEI for the multi-purpose room and theater at the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center

2. Communicate your specific concerns regarding Taller Boricua’s management of the multipurpose room and allow them an opportunity to take corrective actions

3. Allocate the necessary funding to sound-proof the ceiling/floor between the theater and multipurpose room

As with any tenant-landlord dispute, concerns regarding a tenant’s occupancy should be communicated clearly, directly and formally to the tenant before a landlord removes the tenant from the space it leases. While EDC does have the legal authority to terminate Taller Boricua’s month-to-month lease, as a conscientious City agency with control of a treasured community asset, we believe EDC is obligated to first inform Taller Boricua of its concerns regarding their management of the space before considering the termination of their tenancy. To ensure Taller Boricua is treated fairly, they must be informed of your concerns and then given an opportunity to take the necessary corrective actions to maintain their tenancy.

Working together we hope to communicate with our elected officials and the Mayor to earmark the needed funding to sound-proof the multi-purpose space and theater. These two spaces should not be limited in their capacity to host art and cultural programming due to sound-proofing issues. In order to realize the original vision for the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center it is vital that the City make the necessary investment to modernize this historic community facility.
Please feel free to contact our office should you need any further clarification on our position. We look forward to working with you to ensure Julia de Burgos Cultural Center showcases the many artistic and cultural talents of our community.

Sincerely,
Matthew S. Washington
Chair
Community Board 11
cc: Congressman Charles Rangel
State Senator Jose Serrano
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer
Councilmember Melissa Mark-Viverito
Dara Nussbaum-Vasquez, EDC

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In response to the piece written by Gloria Quiñones and Willie Gerena about the Julia de Burgos situation.
By Luis Cordero, Cemi Underground

Cemi Underground has done events at the Taller for the past year and I fully support the Taller in its stance against the City and Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Gloria and Willie have embarked on a campaign with Melissa and others to discredit the organizations at the Julia de Burgos…  As you know there have been plenty of cultural events taking place there besides what I’ve done and including Los Pleneros de la 21 who’ve done afternoon programs there, and the Danisarte theatrical events.  The theater has been underused, no one denies that but, that space is under the city’s control, they are the one’s responsible for its lack of use. There could be more events at the Julia de Burgos Center, that’s for sure but, I don’t think it’s because the Taller prevents them from happening.  Melissa is using this as an excuse to escalate her battle against the Taller and she and her people have little if any support among the artistic community in El Barrio.  Melissa’s camp is the one distorting the issue and have hurled vicious, careless and baseless charges against the Taller.

The Taller has not been perfect in their management of this space but they pay rent to the city for the space and it is not right that the city/EDC come in one day and tell them that they are taking it away from them the next.  Even though the lease for that space is month to month there is such a thing as due process.  If the Taller was behind on the rent, which they are not, then the city could make a legitimate case. On a technicality alone the city is wrong and Gloria, as a lawyer, should know that.  Now she is claiming that the City is coming to save the arts in El Barrio.  As progressive individuals who have struggled against government abuse and neglect, we should know better than that.

This article confirms what we suspected all along that it was Melissa’s bright idea to try to take that space away from the Taller.  She is the one who initiated the action by the city against the Julia de Burgos’ space. Melissa is on a warpath not just against the Taller but against many of the Puerto Rican organizations in El Barrio.  She has tried to take funds away from an established non-profit organization that runs two senior citizen homes in El Barrio, she has threatened to take away the permit of the the 111th Street Stickball organization’s event next year because they would not allow her to speak at the event this summer and she has made empty promises to the Fiesta Folklorica organization in their struggle to continue the Fiesta in Central Park.  If she and her camp are really concerned about the arts in El Barrio then she should go to the city to give a helping hand to the Fiesta Folklorica. Melissa is using her position to go after her enemies who happen to be major Puerto Rican organizations.

Cemi Underground would have completely ceased to exist if it wasn’t for Fernando and Marcos partnering with me to allow me to do the events in that space.  Events that Melissa and Gloria and Willie attended.   So I urge you and your friends not to support Melissa and the city in their unjust crusade.

Luis Cordero
info@cemiunderground.com

THANK YOU to everyone who came to the Full Community Board meeting to support Taller Boricua Tuesday night.

At the meeting, A MOTION WAS APPROVED to send another letter to the Economic Development Corporation with stronger language requesting EDC to:
01. Rescind the RFEI;
02. Communicate directly with Taller Boricua concerning any grievances; and
03. To put up the money for soundproofing the Julia de Burgos Theatre.

We know the fight is not over yet. Please help us to continue to put pressure on EDC to stop the RFEI.

If you have not signed already, please sign our petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petition/39875.html

If you would like to further support stopping the RFEI over the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, please contact EDC and our public officials. For contact information go to “GET INVOLVED” menu tab.



THANK YOU to everyone who came to the Community Board Office to support Taller Boricua Wednesday night.

At Wednesday night’s Executive Committee meeting, a motion was approved to send another letter to the Economic Development Corporation with stronger language requesting EDC to:
01. Rescind the RFEI;
02. Communicate directly with Taller Boricua concerning any grievances; and
03. To put up the money for soundproofing the Julia de Burgos Theatre.

THIS IS NOT A FINAL ACTION, but serves as a recomendation which will be considered by CB 11 at next Tuesday’s (October 19) Full Board meeting.

We know the fight is not over yet. The RFEI is still in motion. We need your community support more than ever. Please stand with Taller Boricua at the next Full Board meeting where the entire Community Board will take a final position on EDC’s RFEI.

WHEN: Tuesday, October 19th at 6:30pm
WHERE: EHCCI Auditorium 413 East 120th Street (btwn 1st & Pleasant Avenues)

WE NEED TO KEEP SPEAKING OUT UNTIL WE ARE NOT JUST HEARD BUT LISTENED TO AND ACKNOWLEDGED.

If you have not signed already, please sign our petition:

If you would like to further support stopping the RFEI over the Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, please contact EDC and our public officials. For contact information go to “GET INVOLVED” menu tab.

Joining Taller Boricua’s multicultural space with the theater and forcing us to participate in an RFEI for a space we already occupy and use is wrong. It is disrespectful and dismissive of our history and current cultural programming.

It is also disrespective and dismissive of all the current tenants of the Julia de Burgos who also have active, ongoing cultural programming: Los Pleneros de la 21 and the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater.

Activating the Julia de Burgos Theater requires funding and renovations by EDC and the City – NOT RFEI’s that put their responsibility on the community’s applicants

As Founders and current occupants of the Julia de Burgos we deserve inclusive dialogue and alternative solutions — not ultimatums and deadlines.

This blog is meant to keep our current supporters updated as well as provide basic information for those who want to get involved.

We deeply appreciate all the support that we have been receiving. Thank you to everyone who has stood with us!

We are not just fighting for a space but for the future of arts and culture in El Barrio to be decided by our own community – not by politicians or development corporations.