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Art Under Attack!

Settembre 2006
Da Williamsburg, ex culla della creatività newyorkese, un grido d’allarme: gli affitti proibitivi spingono gli artisti a fuggire altrove. New York diventerà un deserto di idee?
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A terrace in Brooklyn
A terrace in Brooklyn

Speaker: Chuck Rolando (Standard American accent)

It is generally agreed that – the 9/11 tragedy notwithstanding – life in New York has improved in the last 10 years. Certainly, the city’s streets are cleaner and safer than they were before. And yet this improvement does actually have its disadvantages. This is particularly evident in the case of the arts, an area where New York is arguably the world’s most important city. Robert Elmes is the director of Galapagos, a vibrant arts center in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. Elmes, a Canadian who originally moved to New York to work as a sculptor, founded Galapagos in the early 1990s. He feels that it has helped improve the quality of life in Williamsburg, but he is worried about the future of his adopted city:

Robert Elmes (Mild Canadian accent):

You know, there’s a lot of credit to go round to different organisations that were all participating in the resurgence of Williamsburg, but there’s a double-edged side to all of this and one could say also that all of our efforts that made Williamsburg such a popular destination are leading the rents so high and that it’s leading to arts and culture being... frankly having to move from Williamsburg and that’s a sad state, but that’s really sort of the story of New York City, really. There’s two stories in that: one is that neighborhoods always evolve in New York City, they’re always changing, a neighborhood is always one thing and then it becomes another thing and it’s moving. And it was SoHo, then it was the East Village, then it was the Lower East Side and then it was Williamsburg and these things constantly change. And, frankly, what’s interesting in New York City now is that we’ve seen an entire city begin to change and begin to gentrify and I think, previously, we’ve only had experience dealing with neighborhoods gentrifying, so it became too expensive to live in SoHo, artists then moved over to the East Village and, really, there’s not a neighborhood left for artists to move to and that’s a troubling prospect for the future of New York City for the arts because, if the artists cannot find each other in a city of 8.2 million people, then it’s very difficult for ideas to move between people and for the birth of brand new ideas that are influenced by their association with other ideas. And if these things are not allowed to happen because of economics, then New York doesn’t become so much a city of ideas. And when it’s not a city of ideas, I believe that New York begins to lose some of its attraction and some of its interest, not only for the people that are here, but for the people that may choose to come here in the future. And the danger is that they would move to somewhere else and not to New York City.


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Glossary

notwithstanding - nonostante.

arguably - molto probabilmente.     

there’s a lot of credit to go round to... - bisogna riconoscere parecchio merito a...

a double-edged side to all of this - questo ha avuto l’effetto di una lama a doppio taglio.

are leading the rents so high - fanno salire gli affitti.

to gentrify - imborghesirsi.

that’s a troubling prospect - è una prospettiva preoccupante.