New York Theatre Community - Save The Garment District!

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The New York City Theatrical Community ecosystem includes The Garment District.  The businesses that occupy the few unique and historical blocks of the Garment District ensure the success of our neighbor to the north, The Theatre District.  Costume studios, glove makers, fabric stores, trimming and notion stores, embroidery studios, wardrobe supply stores, hair and makeup stores, wig stores, feather suppliers, heat-set crystal suppliers, workroom supply stores, machine repair stores, display and dress form suppliers, pleating businesses, millinery studios, embroidery stores, buttonholers, stud and grommeters, fabric dye shops, dancewear stores, undergarment stores and cobblers.  These businesses are integral to the survival and success of theatre in New York City.

The following is an excerpt from Joe Anuta’s of Crain's New York Article published on March 23, 2017:

“The de Blasio administration revealed its plan to rezone the Garment District Wednesday evening...

At a Manhattan community board meeting packed with garmentos, officials said that a 1987 rule requiring landlords to preserve part of their buildings for manufacturing had failed to meet its goal to keep factories in the district and protect jobs. Under pressure from globalization and rising rents, the number of garment workers declined by 83% since the rule was implemented, from roughly 30,000 to 5,100 today.

"We have to do something about it," said Julieanne Herskowitz of the city's Economic Development Corp., which is spearheading the effort…

The city plans to call for the removal of the manufacturing preservation requirement in Midtown, meaning landlords would have the option to rent their space to commercial office tenants. Companies that can't find space in the district, or want to move to cheaper digs, could qualify for cash subsidies to help in their relocation to Sunset Park, where Herskowitz said a new cluster of garment businesses has been forming over the past decade.

To boost that area's growth, the EDC is planning to build a manufacturing center that will dedicate 200,000 square feet to garment makers in 2020, when it is scheduled to open. A separate 500,000-square-foot manufacturing space will open this fall at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

"It is our No. 1 goal to support garment manufacturing in New York City," Herskowitz said.

The investments are designed to work in tandem with $15 million in other programs, including grants to spur new technology and innovations and reverse the decline in manufacturing jobs….”

As makers for the theatre community in the Garment District who are occupying these very spaces in question, we have been watching with pending doom as more and more theatre-related businesses close up shop and move out of Manhattan or shutter their doors altogether.  We have persisted, but we rightly fear that this proposed change in zoning will push the last of us out.  And we not only insist that it be stopped, but we insist that we have our protections enforced.

The Theatre District MUST have the Garment District in close proximity to survive.  Loaded down with bags of fabric a costume designer MUST be able to travel quickly from the theatres to the many suppliers they use to make the costumes for these shows.  A chorus actress MUST, as per union rules, be able to to travel quickly from her rehearsal to her costume fitting all in a short specified amount of time.  Our makers MUST be able to travel to a central location with many options of public transportation to complete their skilled work.  A wardrobe supervisor MUST, as per union rules, be able to repair a busted shoe at a local cobbler between performances while the cobbler is still open.  A costume studio employee MUST be able to travel quickly to off-site fittings at a theatre to accommodate rehearsal schedules when the actors are unable to leave for more than 30 minutes.  These are just a few examples of the time-sensitive nature of our work.

Let’s talk about the students at FIT and Parsons.  Let’s talk about them coming from all over the world to the neighborhood they want to work when they graduate - The Garment District.  Let’s talk about them pounding the pavement and getting to know the pattern makers and fabric stores and notion shops that open them up to this unique career path.  Let’s talk about the legacy these young students will watch slip out of their grasp as these businesses shut their doors one-by-one.  Let’s talk about what these interested, creative, inspired young people choose to do instead.

We also acknowledge that our sister industries, the Fashion and Film & Television Industries, will also suffer.  We want to protect them as well, since many of our own cross-over from industry to industry, and recognize that the ease and accessibility of the resources in the Garment District in relation to their ability to do their jobs are equally at stake.

The Theatre District has been in symbiosis with the Garment District since the late 1800s.  Since that time Broadway has become a substantial source of city revenue.  In 2016 the gross revenue of Broadway shows was $1,372,000,000.  That’s more than one billion dollars, and that’s not including the money spent at pre-theatre restaurants or apres-theatre hotels by those patrons.

RISE UP!  (#Hamilton - which was grossing $1.9 million in ticket sales in June 2016)  We are officially rallying the troops!  We appeal to ALL the people who make theatre to recognize the importance of The Garment District and we ask that you urge our Mayor to see that the mass exit of theatrical suppliers and makers to anywhere other than the Garment District will be the end of a New York City legacy.  We call on the producers of these Broadway shows to stand up for the costume designers and makers who create the costumes for their shows.  We call on the costume designers and makers to sit down with their producers and tell them about their days, and the days of their assistants and what impact even one trip a day to Sunset Park would have on their ability to do their jobs.

We officially petition our Mayor to:

NOT ALLOW the protections in place for factory use to be lifted in the Garment District.

ENFORCE current protections in place for factory use in the Garment District.

The city says they don't want to let the garment manufacturing to die.  We ask them if they intend for the theatre industry to die.  Keep these businesses where they are.  Keep these jobs where they are.  Use the $15 million dollars earmarked for moving these businesses out of the city to create affordable rentals specifically for makers to move back in.

Please sign this petition and comment on our facebook page with your personal story of how the Garment District moving to Sunset Park would change your life.  You can find us by searching “New York Theatre Community - Save the Garment District”

 



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