New York City officials have announced plans to limit the number of art vendors who sell their works in several Manhattan’s busiest parks.
The new rules proposed by the Mayor’s office designate that the number of vendors peddling art and other creative goods would decrease by nearly 80 percent.
Art vendors seem to be more of a problem in Union Square, the High Line Park and areas surrounding the Metropolitan Museum of Art, specifically by Central Park as well as in our own Battery Park. Art vendors have been known to line up around the main entrances of the park, and are often looked at as public nuisances who have been abusing free public space for commercial gain.
Vendors argue that the decreasing the landscape is against their constitutional right. Hearings have been scheduled for sometime next week.
How do you feel about the restrictions being made for public art vendors?
New York City has recently announced a proposal to limit the number of art vendors in city parks and public spaces. And Battery Park likely won’t escape the effects of these plans, which some are calling Bloomberg’s attempt to privatize public space.
The proposed restrictions would supposedly ease congestion in heavily trafficked areas, including Union Square, Central Park, the High Line and Battery Park. Last Friday a public hearing was held to hear the opinions of art vendors, their critics and their staunch advocates. According to the New York Times, the protest had some of the best looking signs you’d ever seen.
So we decided to check out the congestion ourselves. During a leisurely walk through Battery Park today, we counted north of 30 different art vendors. However, they seemed evenly dispersed amid the nearly 25 acres of land. The restrictions, should they be approved, would allow only nine vendors along the perimeter of the park between Pearl Street and West Street.
Here’s a quick look at the numbers based on the proposed restrictions:
Battery Park: 25 Acres | 9 Vendors
Union Square: 3.59 Acres | 18 Vendors
High Line: 2.15 Acres | 8 Vendors
If you do the math, or simply go for a stroll through Battery Park, it is painfully obvious that the the BP art vendors would be getting one helluva raw deal. For starters, the vendors don’t even come close to creating congestion on a weekday. And, while Battery Park could easily engulf both Union Square and the High Line combined, it would be allowed fewer than half as many vendors as Union Square should the proposal come to fruition.
We spoke with Asif Javed, an art vendor who has been selling his photography in the park for nearly 10 years, to get his take on the matter. For his part, Javed believes that the legislation should not be aimed towards the art vendors: “[The rules] are aimed at those people who are selling 9-11 disaster books on the streets who make congestion.”
It’s quite clear speaking with Javed that the situation in Battery Park would be dire should 35 to 50 art sellers have to pack up shop and move elsewhere. Since most vendors work solo, coming to a decision on who gets to stay and who gets the boot would be difficult indeed. “It’s going to be a big chaos,” warns Javed. “It’s my work. I don’t want to lose this job! Unemployment is already at 9 point something percent and going up. [Deciding] is going to be a big mess, and I don’t think we can manage it.”
Javed seems hopeful that a resolution will be found as art vendors have faced similar issues in past years. “Last year, the same thing happened. [The City] was against us, and we beat the city. We’ll take it to court again. Our leader Robert Lederman is already working with our lawyers and legislatures. We are hoping the mayor will reconsider.”
Javed says that he and his colleagues are hoping for an opportunity for discourse with legislators. “If we sat down with administrators we could come up with a solution for this problem easily.” Let’s hope that happens.
One of the great things about the Tribeca Film Festival is that most of the movies in the lineup aren’t bloated studio blockbusters with millions of dollars of marketing budget to burn (tough break, Michael Bay). They’re smaller independent films that rely on word of mouth and dedicated tub-thumping stars to get the buzz going, which ultimately results in cool events where said tub-thumping stars mingle with the public and promote the everliving crap out of their movie.
That’s exactly what happened at the Apple Store in SoHo last night, as recognizable actors Oliver Platt (A Time to Kill), Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona), Thomas Ian Nicholas (American Pie) and acclaimed writer-director Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money) gathered to chat about their new flick, Please Give, as part of TFF’s “Meet the Filmmakers” series.
In case you’ve been too busy composting, recycling and campaigning to rid the globe of toxins to remember the date, here’s a news flash for you: Today, April 22, marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.
Now, James Cameron would have you believe that the best way to celebrate this esteemed occasion is by purchasing Avatar on DVD and watching those big blue anteater-type-deals get their jollies by plugging their ponytails into each others orifices. While we have nothing in particular against Pandorans and what they do with their hair, we respectfully beg to differ with Mr. King of the World.
For our money, there’s no better way to spend Earth Day ’10 than by heading down to Battery Park and, you know, getting in touch with nature. And if the glorious 70-degree temps, the newly budding trees and the breathtaking water vistas aren’t enough to convince you, perhaps you’d be interested to know that BPC is sweetening the pot with a barrage of activities and art exhibits that are 100% free, 100% interesting and 200% eco-friendly.