Celebrate the Chinese New Year – the Year of the Horse

From the Bowery Boogie


Plenty of celebration is loping Chinatown’s way. The 15th Annual Firecracker Ceremony, organized by the Better Chinatown Society, will have your ears ringing in the first day of the Chinese New Year – the year of the horse – over at Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Giddy up! The partying continues a few days later with a parade and festival combo to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

The Firecracker Ceremony begins at 11am on January 31, at Sara D. Roosevelt Park (at Grand and Forsyth Streets). We recommend getting there early, because, as we’ve reported in prior years, the crowds are massive.

The parade kicks off on February 2 at 1pm, starting in Little Italy and winding its way through the main streets of Lower Chinatown/Manhattan. Alongside the procession, there will also be a Cultural Festival transpiring inside Sara D. Roosevelt Park (at Canal and Forsyth Streets).

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K’s unedited article originally posted in The Villager as a letter to the editor

Of Parks, Inequity and the Flinging of Coins…


At the “Talking Transitions Tent” New Yorkers for Parks hosted a panel entitled “Four Immediate Ways to Equitably Improve NYC’s Parks”. The panel consisted of committed and hard-working park advocates.

One of the panelists, State Senator Squadron, proposed that “marquee parks” (such as Central Park) share a percentage of funds raised in the private sector with parks that do not have private financial backers. He reminded us that all city parks exist within the same network. That any individual park’s situation affects all parks. It was an impassioned and intelligent plea.

Squadron’s proposal was hammered. The audience was warned of the chilling effect on marquee park supporters, of government interfering with the “democratic tradition” of philanthropy, of distracting from the real issues, and, that city parks were not in such bad shape anyway.

It was disheartening.

Here we were sitting in an enormous “tent” constructed by the wealth of billionaires, hoping to influence the next mayor. There was no time allotted for the audience to speak. We were in the county of Manhattan, home of the largest undisputed income inequality gap in this nation. Joseph McKellar, a panelist who represented Flushing Meadows Corona Park pointed out that there is a correlation between the racial and economic make-up surrounding a park and the conditions of that park. Too true.

Our parks can’t help but reflect this reality. And in a city of such opulence, that simply is not okay.

The Community Garden network has been involved in the care of Greenspaces for decades. This movement came out of poor neighborhoods and largely out of communities of color – with plenty of skill and agency. I doubt any Conservancy in New York City has much to teach us. But maybe we have something to offer them?

Community Gardeners know how to share. We are all volunteers who freely give plants, labor, resources and expertise. Our budgets are usually under $3,000. We get small grants and member fees – we do a lot with a little. We don’t feel a chill when asked to help struggling neighbors. We consider it an honor to be asked.

But neighborhood parks need large amounts of funding to fix broken equipment and to retool park buildings to serve as sites for resiliency centers, youth spaces, meeting and information hubs. Providing support to help make that happen- even one park at a time -would give hope to parks who would otherwise have none. Training by experienced gardeners (from Community Gardens, Parks, Conservancies, etc.) could support gardening stewardship by local neighbors in every park. It would beautify the city and give communities skills to learn how to truly care for and “own” their parks. Every neighborhood deserves their own “jewel” park.

Personally, I don’t believe the public good should have to depend on the largesse of the wealthy for meeting the basic needs of a city. And I don’t think a democracy can long survive relying on the whims of the rich. That’s why we have a tax system, so that government, including the Parks Department, would have the resources to take care of all parks.

Dr. King said, “True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.”

Thank you to Senator Squadron for raising the issue in a way that won’t be ignored. And, as Mr. McKellar said, “Any vehicle that creates more equity is a poignant conversation”.

K Webster

Read MoreK’s unedited article originally posted in The Villager as a letter to the editor

Attention Downtown Artists!

Community Board 3, HOWL! H.E.L.P*, Bowery Poetry Club, Fourth Arts Block, GOH Productions, Jackie Factory, La MaMa, Performance Space 122, Poetry Project, TWEED TheaterWorks, Vangeline Theater

Invite You To A
Actors Fund Workshop

Find out if you’re eligible for free or low-cost insurance

Saturday, December 21, 2013
1-3 PM
Saint Marks Church – Parish Hall

Navigating Health Care Reform is a free workshop to help members of the creative community understand the Affordable Care Act and provide clear guidance by a certified Affordable Care Act Navigator on options that work for you.
If you sign up by December 23, your coverage will start January 1

*About HOWL! Emergency Life Project (H.E.L.P.) 

A Safety Net for Artists

Howl! H.E.L.P. was created to provide emergency financial assistance and social service support to artists who have participated in the annual HOWL! Festival or who have made or continue to make their careers in New York City’s East Village and Lower East Side arts community and whose work challenges the traditional boundaries of dance, theatre, music, multimedia and the spoken word.

Services include counseling and referrals for personal, family or work-related problems. Linkage to community resources for such needs as medical care, legal services, public benefits or elder care. Workshops are offered on a variety of topics and include: finding affordable housing, financial education as well as health insurance options. Financial assistance is available for rent, utilities, mental health and medical care as well as other basic living expenses. Grants are approved on a case-by-case basis based on need.

Susan Stetzer
District Manager
Community Board 3, Manhattan

Please visit the CB 3 website to join the new e-mail list.

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Bicycle Mechanics Training Program

bikeProgramDear LES and Workforce Stakeholders,

The LES Employment Network is very excited to announce that Henry Street Settlement and Recycle-A-Bicycle, with additional support from LESEN, have partnered to launch a Bicycle Mechanics Training Program. You may download the large-file attachment or click this link to view the marketing flyer for more information.

The program will cover the important fundamentals of bicycle mechanics necessary to secure a job in the exciting, growing bicycle transportation, rental, and retail markets. It will place a high proportion of graduates into liveable-wage employment upon completion as mechanics, customer service and support staff, and logistics crew. It is open to public and Network member participants, however, public candidates must register with one of LESEN’s 5 agencies in order to participate (LESEN resource sheet also attached for more information). The upcoming December 5, 2013, orientation is mandatory for all participants.

Although we are especially trying to target local Manhattan Community Board 3 residents and/or 18-24 year-old youth candidates for this, it is open to people from all communities and backgrounds who are interested in bicycle employment, are good with their hands, and do not have obstacles to completion (i.e. schedule, travel plans). The program will provide a modest stipend to cover transportation costs and students can intern at bicycle companies for an additional stipend.

We kindly ask that you market this opportunity through your existing networks and residential buildings, and share any questions or comments that you may have. We hope that you can assist us in recruiting for this crucial opportunity. Thank you in advance!


Gaspar Caro
LES Employment Network
Houston Street Center
273 Bowery
New York, NY 10002
646.455.9932 (cell)

LESEN Resource Sheet

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Important breaking news and events

A 25 story building coming to Chrystie Street….

Talking Transitions event. New Yorkers for Parks hosted an informative discussion on what to do about income inequity in Parks.

Squadron’s Park plan. This is an article the New Yorker that talks about the Transitions Tent event (above). Squadron proposes to address the inequality in Parks by asking the richer Conservancies to give some % of their funding to a parks fund.

NY Rising is Governor Coumo’s NY State planning process in the wake of Sandy. Give your input on what you think needs to happen here!
The idea is that all of these “planning process” (Rebuild by Design – Federally funded) will at some point dovetail so there isn’t duplication….

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The HOW of Affordable Housing: Information for Lower-East-Siders, Artists, and the Creative Community

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How do you find affordable housing in New York City?
How do you know if you’re eligible?
How can you best prepare yourself to apply?
…And what does “affordable housing” mean anyway?

This two-hour seminar will address rent stabilization and privately-owned, government subsidized housing city-wide, with a focus on artist housing and the Lower East Side/East Village. Please note that emergency or immediate-term options will not be covered.

Thursday 12/12 from 6-8PM
At La MaMa Studios
47 Great Jones St. between Bowery and Lafayette

Presented by
The Actors Fund, Cooper Square Committee, Fourth Arts Block, and La MaMa E.T.C.

RSVP Required!
Please email rsvp@fabnyc.org to let us know you are coming.

For all other questions, contact Rebecca Saur at 212-221-7300, ext. 126 or rsaur@actorsfund.org

See map: Google Maps
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Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award

This is an opportunity for artists to submit proposals to our local Sara Roosevelt Park where the work will be sited.

2014 Application Guidelines

Deadline: January 13, 2014
Installation: July, 2014 (subject to change)

The Award
Clare Weiss (1966-2010) was the Public Art Curator for New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation. During her tenure she curated more than 100 outdoor public art installations throughout the city and organized complex, thought-provoking and visually compelling thematic exhibitions for the Arsenal Gallery. Clare’s passion, humanity, energy, courage, and collaborative zeal were valued by all who knew her.

The Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award is granted annually to one emerging artist who submits the most compelling proposal for an outdoor sculpture in a New York City park. The location changes annually and is determined based on the site’s visibility and proximity within a neighborhood underserved by public art.

Sara D. Roosevelt Park, located in Manhattan’s Lower East Side has been selected as the location for the 2014 Award. All proposed artwork must be sited for the plaza between the basketball courts and the stairs located on Houston Street between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets. Please note, there should be ample room allowed between the basketball courts and the sculpture, the proposal should allow for pedestrian flow and objects cannot be attached to trees. If the sculpture is anchored into the pavers, the budget should allow for the cost of replacing damaged pavers.These guidelines should be taken into consideration when drafting proposals for this park. Photographs of the site can be found on the Parks website. The selected sculpture will be exhibited for a maximum of one year.

Artists are strongly encouraged to visit Sara D. Roosevelt Park before submitting a proposal. Applicants must take into account the site’s terrain and submit proposals that will stand up to the park’s particular urban outdoor environment. Sculptures installed in New York City’s Parks must meet the department’s safety requirements and be able to withstand the effects of weather and public interaction.

No proposals for sculptures previously exhibited will be accepted. This award is open to New York City-based emerging artists only.

The chosen recipient will be granted an award in the amount of $10,000.  The recipient is highly encouraged to procure in-kind support and other additional funding necessary to support this installation.

The Award recipient shall be solely responsible for the installation and removal of the artwork and shall provide at his or her sole cost and expense, all labor, services, and supervision necessary.  Additional expenses the artist will be responsible for include fabrication, insurance and maintenance. At the end of the award term, the artist is responsible for returning the park location to its original condition. This project must adhere to Parks’specifications for public art.

The Parks Department will assist the awarded artist with technical logistics such as permitting and site specifications. The artist will be responsible for engineering documents if they are necessary.

The Award recipient will be selected through an open application process. Proposals will be reviewed by a jury comprised of an artist, an independent curator, and a Parks Department representative. Proposals will be judged according to artistic and creative merit and suitability to the site.

Proposals will only be accepted from New York City-based emerging artists— artists who have specialized training in their field (not necessarily gained in an academic institution), who are at an early stage in their career, and who have created a modest independent body of work. Artists who are enrolled in a school, college or university are not eligible for the Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award.

Timeline (all dates are subject to change)
January 31, 2014: Proposals due. Proposals can be submitted earlier.

February 2014: Award Recipient announced
July 2014: Sculpture installed in Park with dedication ceremony and opening reception

Application Proceedure
Proposals must include:

  • Resume with current contact information
  • One-page statement describing artist’s work in general
  • Proposed sculpture
    • detailed description of no more than 2 written pages
    • representative drawings or renderings if sculpture has not been fabricated
    • images of sculpture if it is already fabricated
    • list of materials proposed/used; dimensions (including weight)
    • installation recommendations
    • maintenance recommendations
  • Names and full contact information of two references who are familiar with artist and artist’s work
  • 5-6 images of previous work (8×10 color prints or if emailing jpegs no larger than 1 MB each); each image should be labeled and succinctly described
  • Self-addressed, stamped postcard if you would like to receive notification that your proposal was received.

Materials will not be returned. All materials must be received by January 31, 2014. Proposals should be sent or emailed to:

Clare Weiss Emerging Artist Award
Art & Antiquities
City of New York Parks & Recreation
The Arsenal
New York, NY 10065

Check out parks website: http://www.nycgovparks.org/art-and-antiquities/clare-weiss-award

Download application guidelines

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Juneteenth Celebration in the Garden

Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers landed at Galveston, Texas with the news that the war had ended and that all enslaved people were now free. Juneteenth is a commemoration of African-American heritage, and a celebration of self-development and respect for all cultures.

This Saturday, June 22, the M’Finda Kalunga Community Garden will host its annual Juneteenth celebration. There will be readings, poetry, arts and crafts, and performances by a wonderful drumming and dance group from New York named Kalunga. This is from their website…

In the summer of 2011, master percussionists Javier Diaz (Disney’s Tarzan, ASO) and Madeiline Yayodele Nelson (Women of the Calabash) joined forces with some of the best artists in New York City to create a new group called KALUNGA. Their goal was to highlight not only amazing drumming and dancing, but to reveal the depth behind it.

KALUNGA is a new and unique experience based on ancient traditions.

KALUNGA artists hail from all over the world with influences from Africa and the African Diaspora, specifically Cuba, Peru, and Haiti.

KALUNGA performances provide audiences an experience that exalts the human spirit and celebrates all cultures.

KALUNGA promotes creativity, diversity, and respect for the earth.


Click on the link below to download the flyer for the event.



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