16 September 2007

Temple of Art Carnegie Hall Doesn't Like Artists So Much

A photo study in the current issue of House & Garden magazine aptly illustrates the kind of anti-culture, anti-heritage, pro-money, short-sighted mindset that is pervading the city just now. It concerns the little-known hive of studios that rest atop Carnegie Hall and have been home to various painters, composers, musicians, dancers and the like ever since old Andrew Carnegie deemed it should be so.

Since June 2007, the Carnegie Hall Coroporation (and, believe me, this outfit is more corporation than Carnegie) has been slipping little "Get Out!" notices under the doors of the studio's various (often elderly) tenants. Many have already left. Some 29 tenants remain in the original 170 studios. They're fighting their evictions in court. Carnegie Hall Corporation wants to use the studios for educational programs that are currently conducted elsewhere.

Of course, the CHC had a heartfelt explanation for its mercenary shenanigans. A spokesman said Carnegie Hall's "lease from the city does not require them to lease the studios to anyone." Landlords are landlords are landlords.

The studios have a rich history. According to the article, "Agnes deMille, Martha Graham, Isadora Duncan and John Barrymore have all been tenants. Enrico Caruso made his first recording in studio 826, and Charles Dana Gibson painted his famous Gibson Girls in studio 90. Leonard Bernstein composed the scores for `Fancy Free' and `On the Town' while living in studio 803. Marlon Brando tried to escape his fans there, and Jerome Robbins brought his genius to his dancers there."

But that's no legacy to carry on, is it CHC? Is it?

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