Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc) is a coming together of cultural and community groups in NYC to establish, preserve, and advance Manhattan’s East 4th Street Cultural District between 2nd Ave and Bowery.
Before Broadway was "Broadway", the Theater District in NYC was on the Lower East Side. Straddling the Vaudeville and Yiddish theaters of 2nd Avenue and the dance halls and saloons of the Bowery, E. 4th has literally been at the center of New York City arts & culture since the early 19th century. But the area is also a microcosm of a neighborhood zeitgeist which is constantly evolving and innovating. From German benevolent societies, Jewish performance venues and Ukrainian labor unions to prohibition-era speakeasies, drag cabaret and legendary experimental theaters -- E. 4th Street has been the epicenter of social and political life on the Lower East Side for over 150 years.
Fourth Arts Block was founded in 2001 by long-time cultural and community groups who were concerned that they might lose their properties as the City sold off publicly owned community gardens and cultural facilities. FAB established a unified plan for the East 4th Street Cultural District and worked with its members, neighborhood residents, and elected officials to realize the plan. On January 11, 2006, Mayor Bloomberg presented symbolic keys to FAB's cultural groups and designated the block a cultural district. According to the deal, the buildings must always be owned by nonprofit cultural groups.
Today the East 4th Street Cultural District is home to more than a dozen arts groups, 10 cultural facilities and 17 performance and rehearsal venues. It serves 1,500+ artists and provides more square feet of active cultural use than any other block in New York.
FABnyc provides a variety of services to its member organizations, including leading the development and conversion of 100,000 sq ft of cultural space, marketing and promotion of the district, providing free and low cost programs, as well as training for emerging artists and youth. FABnyc's Dance Block Program works with dance companies and theaters in the Fourth Arts Block neighborhood to make low cost rehearsal space available to dancers and choreographers by centralizing booking during off-peak times.
Photos by Whitney Browne