Rooftop Films Back On The LES Tonight

Morgenrot150X115Rooftop Films is back on the LES tonight at the Open Road Rooftop at New Design High School (see our video about New Design Students here).  Tonight's films are a series of national and international short films in a collections called,"STORMS EXPECTED".  The shorts include themes around the unexpected. 350 Grand Street @ Essex // 8:00PM: Doors // 8:30PM: Sound Fix presents live music by Summer People // 9:00PM: Films //
11:30PM – 1:00AM: Open Bar at Fontana's (105 Eldridge St), courtesy of
Radeberger beer //Tickets: $9

New Design High School Assesses Impact of Budget Cuts

Principals across New York City are having to make some tough choices. Last month the Department of Education announced $405 million in budget cuts, averaging 4.9 percent per school. But recently a group of principals told the New York Post the cuts were actually deeper, more like 10 percent.

We asked Scott Conti, principal of New Design High School on Essex Street, for his take on the situation. He said they have until the middle of this month to figure the budget out, but his initial impression is that New Design will have to cut about 5-percent. Conti says he expects a deficit of around $150,000. He told us, "All schools have to make some tough decisions right now and, thus, being as thoughtful as possible about where the cuts will take place.  The tough thing is that some of our expenditures (like some salaries) are going up so we are feeling the cut much more."

The principal of JHS 123 in the Bronx, Virginia Connelly, painted a much bleaker picture for the Post. Saying the cuts at her school amounted to a half million dollars, she pleaded, "I'm used to doing things with one hand tied behind my back. But don't tie both my hands." The Department of Education has promised no teachers will be fired due to the cutbacks but after school programs are likely to be targeted.

Conti said he understands Connelly's point of view, but he's upbeat: "We are focusing more on the core things we can do better and using the cuts to have conversations about what we really value.  We are working harder at fundraising and continuing to look for ways to make the school feel richer and fuller for staff and students.  On the opening day of school next September I expect the school to be a better place."

New Design High School is one of five schools that replaced the low-performing Seward Park High School in 2005. They emphasize a rigorous college prep education with design woven through the curriculum.

Check out our recent video report from the roof of the New Design High School, profiling the "Rooftop Legends."

TLD Visits Rooftop Legends at New Design High School

We recently visited a fantastic show on the roof of New Design High School.  The school's third annual Rooftop Legends show included graffiti artists from around the world and resulted in an array of fabulous art on the walls all around the roof top. The school integrates different forms of design into a high school curriculum and uses graffiti art as one way to engage students.  We were able to catch some of the artists in action and spoke with students Channel Warner and Sierra Williams about the show.

The Rooftop Legends show is curated by NDHS Dean, Jesse Pais (a former graffiti artist), and is more important than ever as the charter school tries to raise funds for student programs after facing budget cuts three years in a row. Some of the artists featured include: Vins, Dezo, Tatu, Klass, Page, Keo, Cycle, Bounce, El Coro, and Doc TC5.  Music from DJ enuff and "Rockin' It" by The Fearless Four (we had to go old school) . For more about New Design High and to help their cause, visit their website.

15 Seconds – New Design High School’s Scott Conti and Jesse Pais on the L.E.S.

We caught up with Principal Scott Conti and Dean Jesse Pais at New Design High School's Rooftop Legends show over the weekend.  They told us why they love the Lower East Side.  We'll be posting a piece about their school and the Rooftop Legends show soon.

Posted by Traven Rice

Rooftop Films Back on the L.E.S. to Kick Off Their Summer Series


Photo credits: Sarah Palmer

Rooftop Films will be celebrating their opening night tomorrow with an evening of live music and short films down here on the rooftop at the New Design High School on Grand St. Don’t miss the Open Bar After Party at Fontana’s on Eldridge St.  They will be doing 7 screenings down here along with 39 others at various locations around the city. Their 2009 Summer Series Schedule can be found here.

We recently spoke with Founder/Artistic Director Mark Elijah Rosenberg and Program Director Dan Nuxoll about their burgeoning non-profit organization and how far their grassroots film festival has come.

Posted By Traven Rice

Sneak Peak: Rooftop Films Summer Schedule

ImagesRooftop Films hasn't announced its summer schedule just yet, but we're pleased to provide a preview today. Yesterday we taped a really interesting interview with "Rooftop" founder Mark Elijah Rosenberg and the organization's program director, Daniel Nuxoll. We'll post that video next week. Meanwhile, they were nice enough to let us provide a sneak peak of their innovative summer series, which has a strong presence on the Lower East Side.

The series is about to begin its 13th year. From May 15-September 20, Rooftop Films will show dozens of independent films at venues all over the city, including the spectacular Open Road Rooftop at the New Design High School on Essex Street. Each evening begins with live music and, usually, a question and answer session with the filmmaker.

The series is, quite literally, a breath of fresh air. They showcase the undistributed works of local and emerging artists — and embrace stories about overlooked communities. The 2009 series will debut next Friday night on the Open Road Rooftop, with a series of short films. They'll be back in the neighborhood the following week with a series of romantic shorts – and five more times during May and June. Take a look at the May/June schedule by clicking on the "continue reading" link. The schedule for July-September will be released soon.

Wednesday News Links

Another day… still no resolution to the MTA bailout standoff in Albany. Now no vote is expected until next week. See the story in Newsday. Meanwhile, the Daily News reports the MTA has given the union a list of 600 employees who could lose their jobs due to the agency's financial crisis.

Starting Friday, the New York City Housing Authority will ban pit bulls, rottweilers, doberman pinschers and any dog over 25 pounds at its apartment buildings. Any residents who already have dogs in these categories can keep them as long as they register with the city. The Daily News talked with two pit bull owners at the Lillian Wald Houses on Avenue D.

Rooftop Film's new season kicks off May 15 on the Open Road Rooftop above the New Design High Schhool on Essex Street. See the complete schedule here.

The Village Voice checks out some of the LES's more intertesting art galleries and investigates whether gentrification has "hopelessly degraded" the neighborhood.