Tuesday, December 29, 2020

A rent increase is forcing Avenue C Studio to close its doors

Text and photos by Stacie Joy

After 11 years at 55 Avenue C, Avenue C Studio is closing its doors this week. 

Bonnie Sue Stein, executive director and producer of GOH Productions, the nonprofit that develops and manages programs in dance, puppetry and theater, talked with me about the studio's closure. 

GOH Productions shared this space with East Village Dance Project and Movement Research since its opening in January of 2011. Later, after EVDP relocated to Abrons Art Center in January 2018, Moving for Life became a new tenant. 

Stein says the rent became an issue, that the building (it's an HDFC) was flexible for several months during the COVID-19-mandated closure. However, the nonprofit was served a 30-day notice on Nov. 30. They must vacate the space by Thursday. 

She mentioned having a great relationship with the building prior to the pandemic, though the HDFC now seems to want a different tenant, like an office. They also would like to double the rent.

I asked Stein about the genesis of the space and its history.
So this was a dream we had…with Martha Tornay [of East Village Dance Project] we searched the Lower East Side for a space to call our own. I used to shop at Olivio's at 55 Avenue C for yarn, underwear and fresh icies in the summer at his storefront. I saw he was closing and asked if he knew whether the building would be interested in a dance studio and youth program. We lived nearby, and envisioned a neighborhood studio, where local kids could come after school and dance their hearts out.

In 2010, Avenue C Studio was born, partnering in the early years with Movement Research who shared the office and studio, made the space come alive with dancers [aged] from over 80 to under four years old. Each dancer gave energy to the space and the space returned the magic. Within those walls, on that floor, in front of those mirrors, irreplaceable gorgeous memories formed. And will live on.  

Like a new chapter, a death, a loss. I know now I am feeling sad and brokenhearted, but when I see the studio dancing in my mind's eye, I know I am not alone.

In more positive news, all of the organizations will live on, albeit in other locations. EVDP is still at Abrons, Moving for Life has moved uptown. GOH Productions will have a limited office space at the Mary Spink Library on Third Street. 

The floors and mirrors from the studio, which were being removed and packed up when I arrived, are going to Movement Research at 122CC (formerly known as PS 122) on First Avenue at Ninth Street.


Anonymous said...

This truly stinks.
While I never even knew about this place before this article,
it was a spot for people to do positive things
and enjoy life a little.
Cant even have that.
Bah Humbug !
Where is the humanity ?

Anonymous said...

very disheartening. first you have the boys club shutting down and now this center. thankfully the Lower East Side Girls Club still exists.

children in this community need positive outlets where they can explore their creative sides and provide them with skills and confidence to succeed.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that they kicked out an arts center in favor of an office tenant. I wonder how long the building will be empty. As we saw with Zum Schneider, when HDFCs want to raise the rent to something ridiculous, they might find their storefront empty for quite some time. It's a loss to the neighborhood, not just themselves.

Sarah said...

Though every situation is individual, you do have to wonder how much rent-raising by HDFCs is intended as a band-aid to cover up internal mismanagement.

p o o g e n e ! said...

love you bonnie!💖💖💖

Anonymous said...

Everybody is missing the point that a dance studio is noisy. Who would want to live above that? Office is quiet.

Anonymous said...

They are looking for a quiet tenant. No bars, restaurants or dance studio.