|ARTPROJECTS AT GROUND ZERO, NEW YORK
Art At Ground Zero
Cultural Groups Seek To Make WTC Site A Stage
By Jarrett Murphy (CBS News)
An opera house, a community center and a theater complex showcasing talent from throughout the country are among the ideas submitted by cultural organizations seeking a presence at ground zero. Groups had until Monday to send their proposals to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is overseeing the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. While the agency has not announced who has submitted proposals, some groups have been lobbying for their plans. A proposal for a theater complex that would feature productions from regional companies has received support from Meryl Streep, Arthur Miller and others.
"There is a presumption that the best of everything gets to New York, and that just simply isn't always true," said actress Blair Brown, who performed at a fund-raiser for the proposal last week. "We don't have any venue for getting the best in American theater." The project, called the American National Theatre, would have an annual budget of up to $20 million and would choose the best productions from about 150 regional theaters, said Sean Cullen, an actor who is leading the campaign. "Hopefully, one of the strengths that this idea has is that it will have an appeal nationally," Cullen said. The complex would include three theaters — one with 800 seats, one with 700 and one with 400. More than 70 groups submitted proposals by Monday's deadline, said a spokeswoman for the development corporation.
The New York City Opera was originally considered a front-runner for the cultural center, but rebuilding officials questioned whether there would be room for an opera house. The City Opera announced Monday that it has submitted a proposal for a 2,200-seat opera house estimated to cost $291 million, two-thirds of which would be secured by the opera company. The proposal calls for 19 weeks of opera, similar to City Opera's current season at Lincoln Center, and 24 weeks of musical theater.
"We wish to create an iconic, active and meaningful symbol of hope and culture for the city, the region and the world," said Paul Kellogg, artistic director of the City Opera. Some downtown residents approached the Upper East Side's 92nd Street Y, famous for its lecture series and its nursery school, and asked the organization to submit a proposal. Sol Adler, executive director of the 92nd Street Y, said its proposal was based on community interest in a preschool, a senior center and after-school programs as well as lectures and performing arts.
"We're mindful of our need to really understand what the community needs and wants," Adler said. He said his board is spending more than $1 million on a feasibility study and a business plan for a downtown version of the uptown Y, where multitasking New Yorkers can work out in the gym while listening to lectures on closed-circuit TV. Architect Daniel Libeskind's master plan includes a cultural center as well as a museum commemorating the Sept. 11 attacks and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Arts groups submitting ideas were asked to provide documentation of a proven track record and a description of experience with capital projects.
Sarah Henry, deputy director for programs at the Museum of the City of New York, said the museum was part of a consortium of institutions that collected artifacts from the terrorist attacks and submitted a joint proposal for the museum. "It would be looking at the events in the context of New York City history," she said. The consortium includes the New-York Historical Society, the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress. Madelyn Wils, a board member of the development corporation and chairwoman of Community Board 1, which has championed the 92nd Street Y idea, said the development corporation might combine proposals and some projects might be built outside the 16-acre boundaries of the trade center site.