According to a press release from publicist David Gibbs, the League of Independent Theater and the IT Foundation will hold a “community forum” on Mon., Apr. 26 to lament the closing of the Ohio Theatre in SoHo. And, says the release, to “discuss solutions to the real estate crises affecting small theaters and the progress and momentum that has been made over the last year…specifically with regard to the tax abatement proposal currently before the Community Boards.”
The meeting begins at 6:30pm at Ohio Theater, 66 Wooster St., in SoHo.
It’s all a good idea — unless the meeting devolves into Monday-morning quarterbacking. As the CFR noted here, the Ohio’s closure represents a failure of the Off-Off-Broadway universe to mobilize. The tax-abatement proposal, which we support, poses an equal risk if the mandarins of the independent theater world really think it’s a cure-all for the real estate challenges facing the New York theater community.
For those of you who may not be aware, the tax-abatement proposal means, in essence, that New York City landlords would receive a “sustainable tax benefit” to real estate owners and developers if they agree to “longer leases at below-market rates” to nonprofit arts groups.
The Clyde Fitch Report exclusively covered the proposal here. Since then, it has been winding through the various community boards of Manhattan; all but three, we have learned, have signed off. That doesn’t make it law — that just makes it easier for legislation to eventually be written — legislation that would have hoops at both the city and the state level to get through, given that it involves local property but state-level taxes. Translation: This proposal is not going to happen overnight, and even if it does, it is only a carrot for landlords. That is why the mandarins of the independent theater community need to have an event like this one on Apr. 26 — having just one tool in the toolbox is foolhardy.
Members of the community are invited to attend the Apr. 26 meeting and are strongly encouraged to share ideas, as the Ohio will be looking for a new home as well.
A list of speakers and more details will be posted at http://www.SohoThinkTank.org as they become available.