Friday, July 14, 2006

McCarren Pool: Choreographer Says City "Selling Our Parks"

Things are far from quiet on the McCarren Pool front, with opponents of expensive concerts at the venue being produced by Live Nation working on ways to turn up the heat on city government. Their next target of opporunity is the local Community Board 1 meeting that takes place on Tuesday (7/18) at 6:30 p.m. at 435 Graham Ave. The meeting will deal with, among other things, future programming at the pool.

Meanwhile, Sens Production founder and choreographer Noémi LaFrance, who created last year's Agora dance performance that revived the pool, is peeved about the way thing are turning out. Ms. LaFrance, who is now putting together Agora II--which will run from September 6-30 and use performers from multiple dance and theater companies--told the Brooklyn Rail that she first approached the Parks Department in 2004 about using the pool for her performances. For a long time, they weren't interested. Eventually, Sens paid $50,000 to clean-up the space for a public performance. Then, Live Nation--the Clear Channel spin off that is producing concerts featuring Bloc Party, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sonic Youth, Neko Case and others at the pool this summer--paid $200,000 pool clean-up fee in 2005 and a $11,700 site fee in 2006, according to the Rail, in exchange for the opportunity to use the pool for a series of concerts this summer. (These are not to be confused with the excellent and community-minded series of free Pool Parties being offered every Sunday through Labor Day from 2-8 PM by JellyNYC.)

(Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Julius Spiegel--who we last heard from as he ordered student art removed from the Brooklyn War Memorial because it was "inappropriate" for families--told the Rail the Clear Channel shows are a great idea. "Any community benefits from concerts," he says. "It’s a nice thing for individuals and families to enjoy...There are always a few people who grumble." You mean, like, when you censored the art, Herr Commissioner? Ja?)

But, we digress.

LaFrance says that back in the day when the Parks Department didn't have visions of corporate concert producers dancing in its head, it was interested in giving Sens long-term use of the site. But, now that corporate bucks and connections are part of the picture things are different. Very, very different. "We got spun around," LaFrance tells the Rail. "Clear Channel is stepping on our toes. They are having a show on one of our Saturdays so we have to change our schedule, not they. The Parks Department is selling our parks as real estate to corporate America."

(Photo is courtesy of Santo Subito on flickr.)

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