On Dec 2nd at 6pm, hundreds of performers and artists will occupy a privately owned public space near Times Square with 24 hours of non-stop free performances. We invite you to join us that day and also to show your support for our manifesto.
Occupy Broadway Manifesto:
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 look 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.
In doing so, we imagine our democracy as a public performance, with music, theater, and arts in which everyone can both enjoy the show and join in. Our theatre of participation is far different than either the usual bloated, high cost Broadway show or the violent theatre of domination as practiced by Bloomberg and the other privatizers. Rather than destroying books or trampling on constitutional protections, our performance invites everyone to join in the show. They want to ignore this movement or to pronounce it over. We are not over. We are growing. Eviction has pushed us to move further and further into our city. We are the forest moving to the castle. Rather than going away, more and more people are joining this performance in democratic living.
Everyone is breaking through the fourth wall. From here no one knows where the show will begin or end. And we are seeing the city and its bonus plazas in a new light, in which public space is really occupied and controlled by the people.
In the spirit of life affirming artistic expression we hereby reclaim our public plazas.
Occupy public space. Reclaim democracy. Enjoy the show. We are all part of the show.