The management company that runs the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center, the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is taking away Taller Boricuas lease for our multicultural community space. After founding the Julia de Burgos 14 years ago and being ideal tenants ever since (paying rent, insurance and upkeep), we are being forced out. Should EDC be successful, it will potentially cripple all of Taller Boricuas community arts and cultural programming, including our exhibitions.

EDC intends on issuing a Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) on September 30, 2010. This RFEI allows EDC the power to select any group to take over our lease without approval or intervention from the Julia de Burgos Board, Taller Boricua, Community Board 11 or the El Barrio community. This is not the first time EDC has done this. La Marqueta had a similar RFEI sent.

EDCs reason for the RFEI is they have now decided that the Julia de Burgos theater has to be rented together with our multicultural space. The motive they give for this is the lack of soundproofing between spaces.

Instead of coming to Taller Boricua and discussing their solution for the two spaces, EDC informed us on September 17th that the RFEI would be issued on September 30th. They disregarded our requests to put a halt to the RFEI and find alternative solutions to soundproofing the theatersolutions that do not require taking away Taller Boricuas lease on the space.

As of the date of this petition, we still have not been supplied any details of the time frame or logistics of the RFEI (e.g., stipulations, instructions for submitting, deadlines, end of lease) by EDC. Community Board 11 has already written EDC on Taller Boricuas behalf, asking EDC to put a halt to the RFEI and to agree to discuss alternative solutions with both Taller Boricua and the Community Board. To date, EDC has not yet responded.

Taller Boricuas mission has always been for positive change and growth for Spanish Harlem. We see the issue with soundproofing of the theater as an opportunity for jobs for workers in Spanish Harlem and a revival of the theaters use.

Starting in the 60s, a time when Spanish Harlem was basically ignored and ostricized socially, economically and politically, Taller Boricua fought for our community, dedicating the organization to the improvement of living conditions and providing arts and culture programming to El Barrio.

The founders and current directors of Taller Boricua, Fernando Salicrup and Marcos Dimas, have always been involved with bringing basic public services as well as the arts to the neighborhood such as: working with Operation Fightback to create and keep affordable housing; being part of the original founding board of El Museo del Barrio and assisting Boys Harbors move to Spanish Harlem. They also helped more recent not-for-profits art groups such as Art for Change and Media Noche start-up in the community. Taller Boricuas goal was and still is to build a cultural corridor from Museum Mile into Spanish Harlem.

14 years ago the founders of Taller Boricua fought for and won the ability to found and create the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center along with Taller Boricua multicultural space and galleries within. We have been utilizing it for artistic, cultural and community activities in El Barrio ever since.

Apart from Taller Boricuas own programming (Salsa Wednesdays, open poetry nights, film screenings, lectures and panels,) the multicultural space is used by the community to celebrate milestones in their lives (memorials, weddings, baptisms and birthdays) as well as by other not-for-profits in Spanish Harlem to further their programming. To name a few: New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence, Danisarte, Community Works, Los Pleneros de la 21, Harlem Community Justice Center, 100 Hispanic Women, Hope Community, Pathways to Housing, Art for Change, Friends of Claridad, Cemi-Underground, Community Planning Board, Absolutely on 2/Latin Dance with Carmen Marrero, Little Sisters of Assumption, Community Voices, The Field, The Renaissance School, Artist in the Schools, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, ArtCrawl Harlem. Zon de Barrio, Yerba Buena

The Economic Development Corporations insistence on releasing an RFEI just one more step towards the gentrification of Spanish Harlem and the continual dismantling of all the efforts won by the Latino community. We have lost many important groups in the past few years such as Chica Luna and the Association for Hispanic Arts (AHA). It seems as if there is a concerted effort to erase our culture in El Barrio.

Please sign our petition below and help put pressure on EDC to stop the RFEI and discuss other options for the Julia de Burgos Theater that do not include taking away Taller Boricuas lease on our multicultural space. Thank you for your support.

For the past 40 years the Taller Boricua has strived to support the community of El Barrio and create a vibrant arts culture in Spanish Harlem.

We the undersigned appeal to the Economic Development Corporation to put a halt to their RFEI and not to destroy the long-term achievement and the social and cultural benefits that Taller Boricua brings El Barrio, Spanish Harlem.

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Jacquelyn JordanBy:
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Economic Development Corporation


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