We stopped by to visit with Crystal Field, Theater For the New City’s executive director,as she finalized preparations for the Lower East Side Festival of the Arts. Crystal has seen the neighborhood change dramatically since starting the community cultural center in 1986.
She told us: “That was when this area had a very bad reputation. All the struggling artists were moving here and we felt that it would be important to show the rest of the world that we were not just about criminals, vandalism and drugs, and that we really were a very important cultural part of the city.” Twenty-three years later Theater for the New City is an institution. With four theaters, ongoing art exhibits, poetry readings, community board meetings and more, there always seems to be something interesting happening.
Reflecting the economic hardship facing the community, this year’s theme is: “The Necessity of Art in Good Times and Bad”. The festival includes theatrical performances, film screenings, poetry, visual arts, childrens’ theater (some even written by children), booths for LES vendors, and more. Highlights will include performances by Tammy Grimes, Judy Gorman, Composer David Amran (“Splendor in The Grass” and “The Manchurian Candidate”), Penny Arcade and many more. The best part? It’s absolutely FREE.
For information and a schedule of the three day extravaganza, visit their website.