New York Sets Sights on Media Arts Center for Lower Manhattan
by Eugene Hernandez
Plans are emerging in New York City for the development of a media arts center that would become a “single focal point” for the independent film community in Lower Manhattan. Pat Swinney Kaufman, Deputy Commissioner and Director for the Governor’s Office of Motion Picture and Television Development, announced the plans on behalf of New York’s Governor George Pataki.
While the rebuilding of Manhattan’s World Trade Center site has been a primary focus during re-development discussions in New York, on a parallel track are the emerging discussions about the creation of the media arts center in Lower Manhattan. Empire State Development (ESD) Chairman Charles Gargano selected IFP/New York and Film/Video Arts (F/VA) to receive a $100,000 grant to develop a plan for the new center.
“As we rebuild Lower Manhattan, we must take into consideration fresh ideas that will create an even brighter future for the entire City,” said Gargano in a prepared statement. “By bringing cultural organizations and artists to a downtown Media Arts Center, Lower Manhattan will begin its transformation into a 24/7 destination. This area will not only emerge as it once was, but it will grow and strengthen through arts and culture. With the aid of New York’s vibrant, $5 billion film industry, Lower Manhattan will expand its resources and expand its opportunities.”
“The study for the Center will discern where and how to create a single focal point for the Independent film community in Lower Manhattan,” according to Tuesday’s announcement which was issued by New York Governor George Pataki’s Office for Motion Picture and Television Development. Swinney Kaufman, IFP’s Michelle Byrd and F/VA’s Eileen Newman publicly unveiled the plans before members of New York’s film community gathered at Tuesday evening’s “Inside New York” Variety party in Midtown.
The new center in Manhattan would include office space, screening and editing facilities, classrooms, and spaces for special events, meetings and conferences, according to the Tuesday announcement. The site will be anchored by IFP/New York and F/VA. Byrd and Newman will guide consultants in the search for locations as well as other planning, including the determination of funding sources for construction and ongoing operation and maintenance.
The planning for this new center in Lower Manhattan brings together two of New York’s leading independent film organizations, IFP/New York and F/VA. Another leading New York film organization, the Association of Independent Video and Filmmakers (AIVF) is not involved with the planning, but AIVF Executive Director Elizabeth Peters encouraged the efforts on Tuesday.
“Buying a space can allow long-term stability in a very volatile commercial-space market, and create a bulwark against the financial pressures that interfere with our concentrating on our programmatic work,” said Peters on Tuesday. “I look forward to the recommendations of the study.”
Byrd and Newman told indieWIRE that they will dedicate the grant funds to a consulting group that will lead the way towards the creation of the proposal. Byrd and Newman intend to put the plans in front of the community, and investors, some time towards the end of this year. A new center, perhaps modeled after a similar site anchored by San Francisco’s Film Arts Foundation, could open within the next few years according to the two women.