“Emergency Tank Town Hall”
Le Poisson Rouge
What do you do when you’re a non-profit performance space that just found out that your floor is seeping with raw sewage? Unfortunately, the Tank had to face that question when they discovered recently that a water problem was much worse than they’d thought. And so last week at Le Poisson Rouge, the avant-garde multi-media organization was forced to consider the next step in its nomadic journey around Manhattan at an “emergency Tank Town Hall.”
When the Tank started circa 2003 in Hell’s Kitchen, many of its founders were barely out of college and didn’t know how to run such an operation—these idealists even had the lofty idea of offering cheap, affordable tickets for their shows. Gentrified out of their home, they then took up with another arts group, Collective: Unconscious, on Church Street in 2006. That was until they noticed all the dampness on the floorboards.
After an unhelpful landlord essentially told them that it wasn’t her problem, and plumbers estimated it’d cost $90,000 to clean up the mess, the Tank faced an uncertain future. Hence the meeting at this new Village club, a spot that’d been founded by their own music director, Taya Mueller.
So last Tuesday night’s hour-long get-together, catered with pizza and beer, was headed up by Tank artistic director Justin Krebs and managing director Mike Rosenthal who started out by breaking the bad news to the assembled group of some two dozen people including fellow directors, volunteers and supporters. Without the cash flow to support the repairs, they explained, the group had little choice but to seek a more fragrant setting for their work.
To prep for their next move, the Tank had kept their July schedule empty. But due to these hasty arrangements, they obviously needed to find a temporary home until the end of the year. Luckily, they had lots of offers from other arts organizations to choose from, but the most attractive deal came from DCTV, a Tribeca electronic media/education center, which offered up its large ground floor space for concerts (approx. 300 capacity) and a third-floor space for comedy or screenings (100 people capacity) for 20 nights a month, plus a huge area for office space. It’s all promising enough that the Tank’s started programming August shows to be tentatively staged in their new space.
As the group mulled over these possibilities, lots of issues still had to be ironed out: restrooms, security, higher rent, transferring their liquor license, lighting for dance performances, and moving a beloved LED multi-colored glowing pig. But there were also good, proactive suggestions: benefits, multi-media parties, fundraisers, booking double shows some nights, alternative sites in Brooklyn, and more ‘townhall’ meetings open to the public to decide on a long-term home. The latter was easily agreed upon, even if it meant adding another task to their long list: procuring more pizza.