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Old Posted Dec 30, 2011, 5:57 AM
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Smile NEW YORK | Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center (WTC)

Arts Center at WTC Takes Step Forward
By JENNIFER MALONEY | December 30th, 2011

A board of directors was named Thursday for a Frank Gehry-designed performing-arts center planned for the World Trade Center site, two days shy of a deadline for the venue to remain eligible for $100 million in funding.

The all-star board includes World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein, Brookfield Office Properties Co-Chairman John Zuccotti and First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, said Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum foundation, which will support the arts center board in its infancy.

The Wall Street Journal earlier this month reported that the fate of the arts center was in limbo as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had lined up willing board members, waited for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to select an appointee.

Mr. Cuomo still hasn't named a representative, and he isn't required to. But the announcement of six board members clears the way for the arts center to receive $100 million in federal funds through the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., said David Emil, the corporation's president.

Supporters of the arts center Thursday said they are optimistic the governor will appoint a board member. "At some point, we expect the governor, when he feels it's the appropriate time, to lend his support by naming a designee," Mr. Daniels said.

Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for the governor, didn't respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The other board members named Thursday are Vidicom founder and CEO Christy Ferer, whose husband died in the attacks; Community Board 1 chairwoman Julie Menin; and Zenia Mucha, executive vice president of Walt Disney Co.

The selection of Ms. Harris, Mr. Bloomberg's most trusted adviser, signals the mayor's strong support for the project. Mr. Bloomberg is chairman of the 9/11 memorial foundation.

The LMDC board in 2006 allocated $55 million for the project and last year approved an additional $100 million, on the condition that a board of directors form by the end of 2011. The arts center board became a source of tension between aides to the mayor and the governor. Their surrogates are also involved in a funding dispute over the 9/11 museum, which Mr. Bloomberg acknowledged Thursday wouldn't open on Sept. 11, 2012, as it had been scheduled to.

The arts center board members—with the exception of Ms. Harris, who was named an ex-officio member—have agreed to raise $5 million each for the arts center.

The arts center's 1,000-seat theater would fill a void in the city's cultural landscape, providing a venue for performing groups that can't take on the financial risk of trying to fill the city's larger theaters.

Because the city has no midsize theater designed for dance and other performing arts, many of the world's best dance companies have no place to perform here, said Kate Levin, the city's cultural-affairs commissioner. "This is a really important project for the city," she said.

The Joyce Theater, which presents modern dance, has been named as a future tenant. The space is also expected to host cultural and community events ranging from film screenings to college graduations.

Ms. Menin called the venue "a vital economic revitalization project for lower Manhattan and for the city of New York." She said, "It will create construction jobs and long-term jobs" and provide a cultural destination for tourists, residents and office workers in lower Manhattan.

Supporters said the arts center will play an important symbolic role as the site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is rebuilt. "Life, and beautiful life, goes on in the wake of something that was so tragic," Mr. Daniels said.

The 9/11 memorial foundation's founding mission included the creation of a performing-arts center, Mr. Daniels said. The foundation applied Thursday for federal nonprofit tax status for the new organization, which ultimately will be a separate institution, he said.

The new board will meet in January to begin recruiting more board members and developing a fund-raising strategy, Mr. Daniels said. Mr. Emil said the new board members "have the potential to be a very powerful force for the project. I think it's an important step forward."

WTC Arts Board Members Named Averting Massive Funding Loss
December 29, 2011 9:14pm | By Julie Shapiro, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

LOWER MANHATTAN — Mayor Bloomberg named five people to the Word Trade Center performing arts center board Thursday, a last-minute move that averted the loss of millions of dollars in funding for the long-delayed institution.
The board members are: Christy Ferer, founder of video content provider Vidicom; Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1; Zenia Mucha, executive vice president of the Walt Disney Company; Larry Silverstein, president of Silverstein Properties; and John Zuccotti, co-chairman of Brookfield Properties.
First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris will also serve on the board as Bloomberg's representative.
The mayor's down-to-the-wire appointments came just days before the year-end deadline for creating the arts center's board.
If the board wasn't in place by the end of 2011, the performing arts center could have lost most of the $155 million it has received.
"It's critical," Menin said of the timing of the appointments. "The PAC is a vital project for Lower Manhattan. It will create immediate construction jobs…and it will create economic revitalization for the area."
The board will be responsible for raising another several hundred million dollars and overseeing the center's programming, Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, said in a letter announcing the appointments Thursday.
The memorial foundation, which Bloomberg chairs, was the group responsible for picking the arts center's board, the mayor's office said.
The performing arts center has been part of the overall plan for the World Trade Center for years. The Joyce Theater, a SoHo-based dance company, signed on to anchor the planned 1,000-seat theater, and famed architect Frank Gehry drafted a boxy terraced design for the building.
But fundraising for the center never began, and its construction kept getting pushed further into the future, because of delays to other projects at the World Trade Center site.
The arts center is slated to rise at Greenwich and Vesey streets, where the temporary PATH entrance currently stands. Construction on the PAC cannot begin until that entrance is demolished, which won't happen until Santiago Calatrava's winged transportation hub opens just to the east in another several years.
Menin and others in the community have pushed for the PAC to be moved to a different site south of the World Trade Center, where it could rise sooner.
In the past, the Port Authority has not been receptive to that idea, but Daniels' letter lists the PAC's location as one of the issues the new board will examine.
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