CD is FAB way to fundraise for Fourth Arts Block


By Lauren Dzura

The Lower East Side’s recent transformation has brought tremendous change, from a plunge in the crime rate to towering new development projects, like the Avalon Chrystie Place building currently being completed on E. Houston St. But this process may also leave the area looking like a stranger to longtime residents. Amid this sea of change, the Fourth Arts Block is working to preserve the strip of nonprofit community and cultural organizations on E. Fourth St.’s theater row with its release of the benefit CD “East of Broadway: A Benefit for Fourth Arts Block.”

The proceeds from the CD, released last month, will go toward more than a dozen of the nonprofit community and cultural organizations on the block of E. Fourth St. between Second Ave. and the Bowery. The majority of musicians on the album are Manhattan-based and have either lived in the Lower East Side or have a special connection to the neighborhood, said Steve Herrick of the Cooper Square Committee, a low-income housing organization and a FAB member. The CD has tracks by the Hoboken-based trio Yo La Tengo; Moby, whose label is located in the neighborhood; Ani diFranco; Luna; East River Pipe; Philip Glass; The Jazz Passengers with Deborah Harry; Spacehog; Matt Munisteri and Brock Mumford; Last Forever; Rachelle Garniez; Gina Young; Warren Smith and other musicians representative of the area.

Last Forever’s first performance was at LaMaMa, a FAB member group, so the band was immediately supportive of the cause.

“Over the years I’ve bounced all around Lower Manhattan, but I’ve always felt that the better part of my nature was tuned to the East Village,” said Last Forever’s Dick Connette in a press release.

The buildings on E. Fourth St. are currently owned by the city, but FAB has worked to transfer ownership of the buildings at a nominal price to the cultural groups, which is slated to happen in August and September.

The six buildings include 59-61 E. Fourth St., which houses the Cooper Square Committee, Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association and Wow Café Theater; 62 E. Fourth St., where the Rod Rogers Dance Company and Duo Theater are located; 64 E. Fourth St., currently home to Choices Theater, to be joined by Teatro Circulo and Teatro IATI, which will be relocating out of 59-61 E. Fourth St.; 66-68 E. Fourth St., at which reside LaMaMa ETC and the Millennium Film Workshop; 70 E. Fourth St., which will become home of Downtown Art and Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, both of whom are moving out of other buildings on the block; and 72 E. Fourth St., which will become the set design studio for the New York Theatre Workshop.

The buildings need over $6 million in renovations and the CD is part of the overall fundraising effort to bring these buildings up to code. If the CD is to make any worthwhile contribution to the fundraising effort, though, it needs to make more sales.

“It just came out, there has been no publicity on it, so I don’t know if we’ve sold more than 100 copies at this point,” Herrick said. “We’re just desperate to get publicity on it.”

Herrick sent the CD out to various music magazines so they could publish reviews, but he didn’t send them out far enough in advance for the reviews to be published in time with the CD’s release. Never having worked on a record release before, Herrick says he is learning the process as he goes along.

Two of the cultural buildings are empty and others have large vacant spaces in need of repair. The cultural organizations have raised $3 million and are hoping to gather the remaining funds from private donors and foundations.

Attracting artists was not a difficult task for FAB once the cause of the benefit CD was explained.

“We just called their labels and pitched the idea,” Herrick said. “It got easier when other artists got onboard.”

The CD can be purchased online at www.cdbaby.com/cd/fourthartsblock.com, Virgin records and select independent music stores for $14.49. A wider circulation is expected soon since FAB recently retained Reach Out International Records as a distributor.