Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupy Broadway as Creative Resistance

Occupy Broadway!


Contacts:   Benjamin Shepard 917.586.7952

Creative artists, performers occupy Broadway and
commence an all-night performance in an undisclosed bonus plaza.

EVENT: Occupy Broadway (theatre/shopping district) with a 24-hour performance.
WHEN: From December 2nd starting at 6pm until December 3rd at 6pm
WHERE: Times Square by the red stairs, between 46th and 47th streets, along 7th Ave, NY, NY

SHHH!: location released at 6pm: @OccupyWallStNYC #OccupyBroadway

NEW YORK, NY (December, 2011) – On December 2, 2011 New York artists will introduce tourists and New Yorkers going to Broadway shows or shopping themselves into debt to the idea of occupation as CREATIVE resistance with non-stop free performances.  We will set up in a privately owned public space (POPS) near Times Square, turning once blandified space into a space for cultural production.   

“The city created privately owned public spaces for the people, in exchange for bonus height and bulk in these spaces,” notes Benjamin Shepard, co-author of The Beach Beneath the Streets.  “As State Judge Stallman made clear last week, the people have a right to be in these spaces 24 hours a day.” 

In recent weeks, we have seen a push to tramp on our rights to public assembly, public space and by extension democracy itself. In response, we join a global struggle using occupation as a form of creative resistance. Occupations are spreading around the world and around New York City, even UPTOWN!  Bloomberg Beware, you take our park, Now Liberty Park is everywhere! In a time when downtown theaters are rapidly losing their spaces, being turned into high-end fashion stores, Occupy Broadway is a symbolic attempt to regain the space of theatre as an accessible, popular art form, bringing it back to where it all started - in a public space, for the common citizen.  We are using public space to create a more colorful image of what our streets could look like, with public performances, art, and music. Through this movement, New York re-imagines itself as a work of art, rather than a retail shopping mall. With capitalism gone mad, foreclosures increasing, and bank crises consuming whole communities, we are signaling through the flames that there is another way of living. Join us.
Occupy public space. Reclaim democracy. Enjoy the show. We're all part of the show!
Get off the sidelines and break through the fourth wall.

With Over 70 Acts! including:
The Working Groups of OWS, Mike Daisey, The Civilians,
HERE Arts Center, Jenny Romaine and Great Small Works, The Foundry Theatre, The Church of Stop Shopping, Rude Mechanical Orchestra, NY Labor Chorus, The Yes Men, Ayo Jackson, April Yvette Thompson, The Living Theater, Bread and Puppet Theater, Tony Torn, Carlo Alban, Dzieci, Urban Research Theatre, Yolanda Kay, The Big Bank- A Musical, Rocha Dance Theater, Reno and Penny Arcade 

Sign our Manifesto online here:

Why have we decided to perform today in a privately owned public space?

Our occupation is a form of creative resistance. We are using public space to create a more colorful image of what our streets could like, with public performances, art, and music in spiritually-bankrupt  corporate, bonus plazas.

This is why we are here today, performing in a privately owned public space. 

What does ‘bonus plaza’ really mean?  Last week, Judge Stallman defined them this way:
Zuccotti  Park is a privately owned public-access plaza, created in 1968 by a City Planning special permit  issued pursuant  to then existing authority of the New York City Zoning Resolution (Holloway Affirm. 119), which encouraged the creation of  space for  public use in exchange for additional or "bonus" development rights given to the owners of  adjoining properties. Brookfield Properties, Inc. is the alleged owner  of Zuccotti  Park. It is undisputed that the special permit requires that Zuccotti  Park be open to the public and maintained for  public use 365 days per year.

In other words, bonus plazas are required to open to the people.

Created for the people as part of New York City Zoning Laws in 1961 and 1975, these spaces are designed as open access public spaces. Buildings receive bonus space in exchange for making a public plaza. Yet while these landlords make an immense  profit even as they consistently renege on their contract with the city by not allowing public access. All too many citizens remain unaware that they have a legal right to access these spaces. These are public spaces being consumed by privatization. So the battle over our public parks is very much about who gets to eat, drink, stand, or play freely.

Today and forever we will hold developers to their legal obligation to provide publicly-owned private spaces. We call for an end to the trampling of our constitutional right to public assembly, our occupation of public space and our right to democracy itself.  We demand an end to First Amendment Rights suppression.  Recent offences include the barring of journalists from covering the eviction of Zuccotti Park assemblers, as well as the refusal to allow the OWS NYC drum circle to encircle Mayor Bloomberg's mansion on East 79th Street.  Responding to this latest mayoral abrogation of civil rights, civil liberties attorney Norman Siegel commented, "Last time I read the First Amendment it didn't say, 'You have a First Amendment right to peacefully protest on public streets, except where Mayor Bloomberg lives.”

We join in solidarity with fellow occupiers from Tahrir Square to Davis, California by challenging this restriction on access to the public commons and by extension democracy itself. Our creative resistance is using public space to create an exciting mix with public performances, art, and music in vacant, lifeless corporate, bonus plazas. Through such art, New York artists reimagine their city as a work of art, rather than a retail shopping mall. With capitalism gone amuck, foreclosures increasing, and bank crises consuming whole communities, we are demonstrating there is another, more joyful way of living.

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