A Gathering of the Tribes Will Be Evicted on April 15; Looking for Donor to Buy the Building

Posted on: March 3rd, 2014 at 6:00 am by

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Photo: A Gathering of the Tribes

The 25-year-old arts and cultural collective A Gathering of the Tribes is on the endangered list. Its director, Steve Cannon, sent an email over the weekend noting that their building at 285 East Third Street is for sale, and that Tribes is being evicted. Their landlord, Lorraine Zhang, succeeded in the quest to have them booted from the premises on April 15 – tax day.

His letter to supporters was more a plea to encourage a “benevolent donor” to purchase the property on behalf of the non-profit organization. Rallying the base, so to speak.

From the mailbag:

Dear Friends:

As you may already know, our landlord Lorraine Zhang has put 285 E. 3rd St. on the market, and is moving to evict Steve Cannon and Tribes on April 15.

Zhang purchased the building from Cannon in 2004 for $950,000. She is currently asking $3.35 million— an amount which we believe exceeds the value of the property.

We are reaching out to you now with an urgent appeal to avert the eviction of Cannon and this internationally recognized arts space.

A Gathering of the Tribes was founded A Gathering of the Tribes was founded in 1990 here at 285 E. 3rd Street. We are a 501 C3 and have received funding support from the New York State Council of the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Jerome Foundation, Andy Warhol Foundation, Blooomberg LP, as well as an abundance of private donors.

Our literary magazine, which is published annually, is distributed to museums, schools and libraries worldwide. Our gallery space showcases both seasoned and emerging artists from across the US, as well as
Russia, India, China, Africa and beyond. We host an average of 10 exhibitions per year, in addition to the annual Charlie Parker Festival in August. Fly By Night Press, our publishing arm, publishes poetry by
writers from diverse backgrounds. Tribes also sponsors and hosts music and dance performances, poetry readings, lectures, forums, open mic’s, and other happenings. We have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, literary magazines, art journals and numerous local and international publications.

Because we’ve been established for close to 25 years and have made the East Village our home, we would like to continue to operate here and offer a base of support and community for artists in our neighborhood.

This is why we need your help. Tribes is in search of a benevolent donor to purchase this property on behalf of our 501 C3. We plan on continuing and expanding our activities on the second floor as described above (gallery, poetry and performance salon, publishing magazine bi-annually, as well as 2 to 4 books per year). And we would like to convert the rest of the building to residences for poets, writers, musicians, and artists of all stripes. Our plan is to partner with foundations, schools or other institutions that can provide stipends to artists to reside here for 3-6 months, up to 1 year periods of time. We will continue offering internships through local universities to young artists, who can get involved in our programming and be mentored by the artists we house.

In order to manage such an operation, we would expand our staff to include at minimum a full-time office manager, grant writer, program coordinator, online editor and maintenance staff.

[The cost of running this building is relatively low. Fuel is approx. $10,000 per year (heat and hot water), insurance is approx. $5,000 per year, and real estate taxes are just $3620 per year. That’s a total of $18,620 annually.]

There are many possibilities for how Tribes can thrive and grow—including leasing floors to groups that could fund such artist residences. We are open to any and all kinds of creative financing. At this point what we need to secure the building.

If you are interested in buying the building or donating to a fund to purchase the building, please get in touch. The time is NOW. While we had an agreement with Zhang to remain on the premises through August 2014, Zhang has taken Tribes to court and succeeded in obtaining an eviction order for April 15, by claiming that our operation of Tribes from a 2nd floor residence violates the zoning statute. We have exhausted all legal appeals, so we either need to find someone(s) to purchase the property or get out.

This year, the HOWL! Festival will honor Steve Cannon by naming him the poet laureate of the Lower East Side. There is now a Two Boots pizza named after A Gathering of the Tribes.

It would be a tragedy to lose our space in spite of such ongoing recognition of the services we provide as an arts incubator on the Lower East Side. We are one of last places left that nurtures young aspiring artists in all disciplines. Please help, or help spread the word. SAVE TRIBES!

Thank you for your careful consideration of this matter. If you would like further information about the property or any details of our legal situation, please do not hesitate to call.

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