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Important CWG Funding News

April 8th, 2010

Chinatown Working Group is please to announce the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) approved today a $150,000 grant in support of the CWG's planning initiative. CWG wish to thank the LMDC for this much needed funding for our community-based planning process. A special thanks to the Office of NYC Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber, Council Member Margaret Chin and former Council Member Alan Gerson for their efforts in making this grant possible. The funding will help enable the CWG to create a comprehensive plan for community improvement.

The main purpose of this long sought for funding is to enable the CWG to retain a planning firm in support of our proposed 197-a Plan. The timing and mechanics of the funding are still to be worked out. We will, of course, update both the CWG Steering Committee and full CWG as we learn more.

All of the CWG's Working Teams reported on the status of their proposed Preliminary Action Plan and Study Area. Two of the four Working Teams - Parks & Immigration and Education & Schools - formally submitted their recommendations to the full CWG for review. The other two - Economics, Transportation & Security and Culture, Affordability, Preservation & Zoning - proposed their Study Areas but will require more time to work on their Action Plans. We hope to post the Working Teams' proposals on our website within the next few days.

The entire CWG truly owes a debt of gratitude to the members of the Working Teams (particularly the Working Team Chairs), who have tirelessly, impressively and collegially put together their plans. These contributions on behalf of our community are much appreciated!

Jim Solomon & Thomas Yu
Chinatown Working Group, Co-chairs

Asian American Arts Centre moves to Lower East Side
33 years perseverance promoting local Asian American artworks.

SingTao Daily
October 14, 2009

[ Press Release ]

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The Chinatown Working Group


The Chinatown Working Group is a community-based planning initiative on the future of Chinatown. Our goal is to support the community's residents, workers, businesses and visitors. CWG members include Chinatown's stakeholders' representatives of community groups, Community Boards #1, 2 & 3 and interested parties.

Our focus is on issues of shared concern throughout Chinatown including but not limited to affordability, preservation, revitalization and the social and economic well being of families, seniors and youths.

CWG's objective is to articulate common goals for Chinatown's future with consideration for its impact on adjacent communities, and to formulate and work with City agencies to implement a precise, comprehensive, meaningful, timely and broadly supported community-based plan.


CWG's plan is to create an inventory of existing conditions and identify realistic implementation strategies that address, among many issues: truly affordable housing, multi-cultural and historic preservation, economic revitalization and sustainability, commercial stability, residential and business displacement, small/light manufacturing use, open space, public infrastructure, transportation, congestion, tenant rights, the environment including air quality, education, the arts, human rights, immigrant needs, social conflicts and crime, the well being of families, seniors and youths, and zoning. Although zoning is a powerful planning tool that can be used to mitigate the potential negative impacts of development in a neighborhood, it is not the only strategy that should be applied in Chinatown. A broader community-based planning strategy that goes beyond zoning may be pursued.


CWG's community-based plan for Chinatown will engage in a democratic, comprehensive and transparent process in building consensus among diverse groups. CWG will conduct extensive public outreach to involve as many of Chinatown's stakeholders as possible. CWG meetings will be held regularly and open to everyone. CWG hopes to have the full cooperation and support of the City for this community-based initiative including access to staff from various agencies, such as City Planning, HPD, Small Business Services, Department of Transportation and Economic Development Corporation.

Chinatown Working Group
c/o Community Board #1 Manhattan
49-51 Chambers St., Rm 715
New York, New York 10007
Phone: 212-965-0020


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Cultural Equity Group (CEG)

Attached is letter sent to the City Council outlining our needs to the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs on May 18, 2008. Although these needs were addressed to the New York City Council, many of these issues are applicable on the State level.

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Chinatown/Lower Manhattan Residents File Lawsuit to Challenge NYPD's Covert Construction of Joint Operations Command Center

For Immediate Release

NYPD Is Trying to Avoid Mandated Review Procedures

Wednesday, September 3, 2008, 1:00, Press Conference

Park Row & Worth Street at the NYPD Barricades, New York, NY 10038

The residents of three large residential cooperatives, Chatham Towers, Chatham Green, and Southbridge Towers, are announcing today that they are challenging the planned construction of a new $13.8 million, 22,000 square foot 'super high-tech' NYPD Command Bunker in the Police Plaza complex. The three cooperatives filed a lawsuit last week to rein in the NYPD's attempts to avoid legally mandated public environmental review procedures and force them to open the project up for public oversight.

"At a time when the NYPD should be moving critical functions away from our densely populated residential community, they are trying to establish a Joint Operations Command Center down here. This is sheer madness. Remember what happened to 7 World Trade Center,� said Danny Chen of the Civic Center Residents Coalition.

The lawsuit contends that the planned construction of the $13.8 million, 22,000 square foot Joint Operations Command Center involves a site selection for a capital project, and therefore must comply with the City Charter's Uniform Land Use Review Procedures. Because the construction of the Joint Operations Command Center will cause several significant adverse impacts -- such as exacerbating the traffic and parking problems that followed the closing of streets around the One Police Plaza complex -- it also must be reviewed under the State and the City Environmental Quality Review Acts. Under both review procedures the project would be commented upon by the public, giving them a voice in this troubling land use decision.

"If police headquarters were being built today, there is no way that the community would allow it to be located in Lower Manhattan. Why would we now want a paramilitary presence in Lower Manhattan? The NYPD knows how wrong this is and they explicitly lied to us about their intentions and plans,"� said Jan Lee, another member of the Coalition. The placement of this Joint Operations Command Center at a key access point in Lower Manhattan, next to the Brooklyn Bridge, will exacerbate the traffic congestion caused by NYPD security measures creating further bottlenecks to the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.

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Cultural Equity Group (CEG) forms to Demand Equitable Funding for Community Arts Organizations of Color


CEG press conference
CEG press conference on steps of City Hall, Jan. 9, 2008

BROOKLYN, NY, JANUARY 2, 2008. The Executive Directors of cultural institutions, serving primarily Black, Latino and Asian communities from all five Boroughs have united to demand equitable funding from the City of New York. The Cultural Equity Group (CEG) is a coalition of cultural arts organizations and artists working for the equitable distribution of funds and resources to assure that under resourced and underserved emerging and mid-sized organizations grounded in the culture and arts of their communities are fairly funded. Although the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of Kate Levin, secured an unprecedented amount of funding for cultural institutions in FY07, organizations headed by leaders of color continued to lag behind. The objective of the Cultural Equity Groups is to stabilize the field, providing necessary technical assistance and program management resources to assure the continued growth of the cultural arts field.

In addition to DCA's funding process which is limited to project support only; that is, support from DCA can only underwrite 50% of the project expenses with very little funding allowed to be allocated for its management and administration. A reform of the grants process to allow organizations to receive a combination of project and general support would go a long way to stabilizing arts organizations of color. Similarly, special allocation to "jump start" organizations of color in facilitating their potential of cultural anchors in communities. Additional support is also needed to secure health insurance for cultural workers who lack basic benefits from their organizations. Lastly, organizations that own/rent their facilities are being driven to the brink of bankruptcy because of the escalating costs for fuel and liability insurance. To that end a special allowance for owners/renters to offset financial pressures. The aforementioned is a sample of some of the issues.

The New York City Council Black & Latino Caucus has recognized that institutions of color have gone far too long without the necessary resources needed to provide opportunities for people that live in communities that are in a state of emergency. On January 9th, 3pm at City Hall, which is less than one month before organizations all over the City will be applying to the Department of Cultural Affairs, a hearing has been organized by the City Council for over 200 arts leaders to appeal the current process and demand that an additional and more equitable fund be created to address this historical disparity that is destroying the equitable fabric of New York City. To attend the hearing, please contact Caribbean Cultural Center at 212.307.7423.

William Aguado
Executive Director
Bronx Council on the Arts

download CEG information sheet

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AAAC fights to Keep 26 Bowery
June 1st, 2005

AAAC's legal action to prevent eviction from 26 Bowery is over. This struggle began in October 2004, immediately after our 30th Anniversary celebration. The prospect of eviction from our home of 29 years caused great havoc and anxiety, as it does for anyone faced with this problem. For AAAC it caused special problems given the extensive resources collected over many years. And for the programs we have built, without an adequate facility, would have difficulty continuing.

AAAC has been rent stabilized since 1984, but real estate values have been rising rapidly. We found that artists have been constantly affected by this, dependent as they are on personal studio space. NY has allowed the sacred cow of real estate to have its way with little regard for artists .

Artists remain for the most part powerless despite the value they bring to the city and its neighborhoods. This is now a global problem with many large cities adapting sites of former industries for artists zones. Creative solutions are called for with savvy leadership, and the collaboration of government and developers. These are far too few and the likelihood of government caring for its artists population, realistically is nil.

AAAC on the 3rd floor of 26 Bowery for 28 years, is above McDonalds which has been here for about 3 years. You may have seen this facade in the film, 'SuperSize Me!'

AAAC's plight is very similar to that of artists and other community cultural institutions, the crunch of property and economic forces that engulfs us all, and the equation that the legal and political structure has sanctified. Overlooked in this equation is the anguish, the disruption, and general inhumanity to others that is taken for granted, disregarded or considered unavoidable. More needs to be done to wake artists and the arts community to their collective condition, so that together we can generate the will and capacity to change this.

In our particular case, before the costs for continuing the legal process would have skyrocketed, AAAC settled out of court. We expect to sign a lease soon where we are no longer stabilized by IMD status of the Loft Law. Rent will go up over the next 4 years to commercial levels till we will pay 4 times more than we pay currently. In Sept 2005 our rent will nearly double. What we won is time to increase annual income and grants and/or time to plan to move with more deliberation to, perhaps, a modest facility where a different order of activities can be formulated and funding found to support them. Much of what began during this crisis will continue, for example, finding a secure home for our extensive collected resources.

We want to thank the many friends and artists who came forth to support us during this crisis. We thank all those who gave of their time to advise us and are continuing to help us navigate through this continuing evolving situation. We thank those who wrote support letters on our behalf, many of these were passionate statements that we will be forever grateful for. And we want to thank you our reader, many of you who have donated to support AAAC and continue to support us with your concern and contributions. Thanks to you all. The vision of an Asian American Contemporary Art Museum continues!

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