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Ground Zero Redevelopment Seeks Arts Groups

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The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) has announced a "worldwide initiative" designed to solicit proposals from arts and culture groups who wish to partake in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site. While there has long been interest in the arts playing a significant role in any rebuilding, the initiative, launched on Mon., June 30, is the first clear sign that such thinking may lead to an action plan.

The "Invitation to Cultural Institutions for the World Trade Center Site" is a nine-page "request for information" that also provides the first glimpse into how much space, in terms of square feet, may be allotted to arts groups as the area rejuvenates. Established after Sept. 11 as a subsidiary of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, the LMDC laid out some basic principles for the site in 2002 in its "Blueprint for the Future of Lower Manhattan." Soon after, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's "Vision of Lower Manhattan" moved the dialogue along with a specific call for culture to be integral to what ultimately gets built.

Bloomberg, in fact, appeared pleased with the LMDC's "invitation." In a statement, he said, "The information we glean from this process will be invaluable in forming the basis of the cultural institution or museum that will help New Yorkers and visitors from around the world understand not only the terrible events of Sept. 11 but also where we go from here. In addition, this process will produce proposals from arts and cultural institutions that wish to locate in Lower Manhattan, making the downtown area an even more vibrant global hub of culture and commerce."

The LMDC, however, carefully noted that the document is a "request for information," not a request for proposals that would result in "the awarding of contracts or grants."

Still, the plans, at least as they now stand, portend great opportunities for arts groups. As the mayor's statement noted, the site's signature institution will be a museum that would "educate, inform, and inspire" by examining Sept. 11 as well as the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. In addition, the LMDC envisions "a performing arts center with multiple uses, including facilities for theatres, music, opera, and dance," plus a center for international culture, various cinemas, libraries, programming for indoor and outdoor spaces, visual arts studios, performing arts rehearsal spaces, and venues catering to multimedia and multidisciplinary organizations.

These facilities will be "clustered to form a complex of institutions framing and protecting" the part of Ground Zero that will be set aside as a victims memorial. Included will be a "North Cultural Building," set along Fulton Street, totaling 100,000-120,000 square feet; a pair of "South Cultural Buildings," found along Greenwich Street, totaling 35,000-45,000 square feet and 65,000-75,000 square feet; and a "Performing Arts Center," located at the northeast intersection of Greenwich and Fulton streets, with 150,000-250,000 square feet.

Arts groups interested in submitting information to the LMDC will find guidelines posted and downloadable from the agency's website, www.renewnyc.com. Among other things, submissions must detail an organization's proposed programming and mission; documentation of the organization's track record; evidence of the organization's previous experience with capital projects, if any; a sense of the organization's current management and governance structure, such as the names of those sitting on the board of directors; and "full disclosure of any conflicts of interest." Financing documentation is required as well. The submission deadline is Sept. 15.

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