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Artists End Long Legal Feud at Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center

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photo courtesy of Mark La Rosa for The Lo-Down

For more than a decade, the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center on Suffolk Street has been a house divided. But now, according to CSV Executive Director Jan Hanvik, a long legal battle between rival arts organizations sharing space in the historic but decaying building, has finally been settled.

Since the early 90's, a group known as the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural and Educational Center, has held the lease on the city-owned building. They have been engaged in a bitter feud with another group, Artists Alliance, over the managment of the facility.

In a press release, Hanvik announced an agreement has been reached:

…allowing the Center to realize its full potential as a Puerto Rican/Latino/multicultural/multiarts community center serving the diverse Lower East Side of Manhattan as well as all of New York City… In the settlement, all parties agreed that CSV is the sole management agency.  The settlement requires CSV to issue license agreements outlining both rights and responsibilities of both CSV and its resident artists and arts organizations, which will insure stability of the tenants in its subsidized space rental program. Underscoring this development, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation awarded CSV a grant for a Master Plan, coordinated by Beckelman + Capalino, to survey all spaces – 37 artist studios, 13 not for profit cultural organization offices, 4 theaters, 2 galleries, and a cafe.  The survey will analyze the conditions of facilities for the artistic activities of the tenants.  The grant will also provide for an updated website and a comprehensive survey of Lower East Side and city-wide arts and non-arts not-for-profit organizations and their interest in availing themselves of CSV’s resources.

This past summer, the city began a massive undertaking, the restoration of the building's exterior. The Lo-Down is following the project every step of the way. Photographer Mark La Rosa is documenting CSV's transformation for a series we'll be featuring throughout the year. 

Hanvik said the resolution of the legal battle, as well as the restoration, will serve to "protect both the building and its programs for future generations in a changing neighborhood… These advances show what can be accomplished when multicultural and diversified communities come together."

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  1. I just love that magnificent old CBJ Snyder school. That the city is restoring it is very good news. It will look glorious and should lift the spirits of the arts organizations who inhabit it.

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