Becoming FAB: Taking temperatures

Yes, we organized, but it surely was not an overnight organization. What was the climate in which FAB was born? Why would all these groups decide to come together and how did it all happen?

“It was a very frightening time. During the Giuliani administration, there was all the talk around the city, about the enforcement of market value on buildings… there was a scramble of who was going to survive!” – Bev Petty, La MaMa

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“In the early years, it was exciting. Nerve-wrecking. because we were dealing with the Giuliani administration and because it was challenging to manage certain dynamics among the organizations. We were having a lot of high-level discussions about culture and cultural districts that were new to me. It was exciting to think about what we were creating and collaborating on a joint proposal. The Giuliani administration wanted us to pay real money for the buildings, but CM Lopez had our backs and supported us in our fight to get the buildings for $1 apiece.” – Steve Herrick, Cooper Square Committee

At ribbon-cutting ceremony, from left, Lynn Pentecost, Lower Eastside Girls Club executive director; District Leader Rosaura Mendez; City Councilmember Margarita Lopez; Mary Spink, Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association executive director; and Veronica Ballass, Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union manager. Photo from oneequalworld.com
At ribbon-cutting ceremony, from left, Lynn Pentecost, Lower Eastside Girls Club executive director; District Leader Rosaura Mendez; City Councilmember Margarita Lopez; Mary Spink, Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association executive director; and Veronica Ballass, Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union manager. Photo from oneequalworld.com

“During that time when they first started meeting in the late 90s, I had only just started working at Rod Rodgers Dance Company part time. It was a time when it seemed like city government under Giuliani was trying to get them out. But it was with CM Margarita Lopez and the Cooper Square Committee that helped and advocated for us.” – Rachel Lubell, Rod Rodgers Dance Company

“At the time, WoW had a landline in our space (yup) and Cooper Square called to say ‘There’s an important meeting in the building’ and for someone to please attend. I picked up because I was rehearsing when they called and they picked up…. So I attended the meeting and somehow, I along with Alison Duncan became the point people during this whole process of purchasing these properties from the city.” – Jen Abrams, early WOW member

“My first memory of FAB is the morning when Ryan Gillian mentioned to me the idea of forming this new organization to help coalesce the efforts that all the organizations in the block were doing individually. I am an optimist by nature so, my first instinct was to support the idea although the logistics on how to do it was not that clear at first.” – José Cheo Oliveras, Teatro Circulo

How was all to unfold? Find out in the next blog post!

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This mini-series is part of FABNYC’s 15th year celebrations – Please join us June 13 at The Standard East Village for our benefit party! Hang & chat with community members, artists, member organizations, advocates, organizers, and residents. Summer ain’t nothing without some FAB friends!

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