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Photo of PTP Academy.

NYC to Have Immigrant Research & Performing Arts Center

With a $15 million investment from the city and $75,000 from DCLA, the center will provide a home for community-driven performing arts and immigrant history research.

NEW YORK CITY: Mayor Eric Adams has selected the People’s Theatre Project (PTP) to open and operate an Immigrant Research and Performing Arts Center (IRPAC) in Inwood, a neighborhood in northern Manhattan. The center will offer a range of visual and performing arts that amplify the voices of New York City’s diverse immigrant communities and cultivate work by local artists and arts organizations. The city will invest $15 million to help PTP acquire a newly constructed cultural center that will deliver theatre that is more equitable and representative of immigrants and people of color.

“New Yorkers deserve a city that is more inclusive and more prosperous after the pandemic than it was before, and we are building that city every day,” said Mayor Adams in a statement. “Part of that is creating opportunities for all our young people to see themselves in our arts and culture, and this project will provide a new generation of young, immigrant New Yorkers with that invaluable experience. I know this partnership with the People’s Theatre Project and the $15 million investment we are providing will bring joy to so many in Upper Manhattan and across the city.”

PTP was selected through an open request for expressions of interest conducted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). In addition to the $15 million in capital support from the city for the new facility, DCLA will provide $75,000 to help PTP prepare to operate the new space.

“We thank the mayor, NYCEDC, DCLA, and the administration for selecting People’s Theatre Project to lead the new center,” said Mino Lora, founding executive director of People’s Theatre Project, in a statement. “For the last 13 years, we have been committed to uplifting the voices of immigrants and people of color in New York City. This center will be an exemplary space, where artistic excellence goes hand in hand with the centering of immigrants and people of color, welcoming the local community, and catalyzing civic action. It will connect, inspire, and activate generations of immigrants and their allies. Today’s announcement is an exciting moment for New York City, with an opportunity to build a community-rooted and anti-oppressive cultural institution from the ground up.”

Construction on the center is expected to begin this year, with completion slated for 2027. The center will be named with input from and collaboration with the community.

The center will provide an accessible, dedicated rehearsal and performance space for residents of Inwood and Washington Heights. Community members will be able to enjoy live musical and dance performances, film screenings, and other community events, and audiences from across the city will be able to experience theatrical performances that center and explore the breadth of immigrant experiences represented in New York City. For children and families, the center will offer festivals, student matinees and field trips, and community partner programming.

The center also plans to provide weekly cultural programming for seniors in partnership with local senior centers, subsidized theatre and studio space rentals for local performing artists, exhibits by local and immigrant visual artists, and a home for resident companies, partners, and individual artists.

The center will be the home of the PTP Company, a professional multilingual ensemble of immigrant artists of color, and the PTP Academy, a theatre and social justice leadership program dedicated to the holistic development of immigrant youth. All participants in the academy receive a full scholarship. Since 2009, PTP has engaged more than 10,000 Latine, Black, and immigrant youth of color in its partnerships and public programs.

In addition, the center will serve as a community hub of immigrant history research. PTP will partner with the New York Public Library to provide research and literary programming that will allow community members to explore the immigrant experience through scholarship and the performing arts. PTP will also continue conversations with Dominican-centered institutions about having a place to enrich the cultural learning and immigrant history vital to the Inwood community.

The center’s 17,000-square-foot space will be in a new, mixed-income, mixed-use building located at 407 West 206th Street, developed by a joint venture of LMXD, MSquared, and Taconic Partners. Designed by the woman-and immigrant-owned architecture firm WORKac and theatre and acoustics consultant Charcoalblue, the center will have a flexible midsize theatre, a smaller performance space, rehearsal studios, soundproof practice rooms, and gallery space.

“As the anchor of the Immigrant Research and Performing Arts Center, People’s Theatre Project will tap into the power of the performing arts to capture and distill complex experiences, bring people together, and celebrate our diverse identities and backgrounds,” said DCLA commissioner Laurie Cumbo in a statement. “We are thrilled to join with Mayor Adams and NYCEDC to announce the long-term home of this amazing organization, where they will energize this new facility to celebrate the diverse immigrant experiences that have shaped and strengthened our city over generations.”

People’s Theatre Project (PTP) is Manhattan’s largest nonprofit performing arts organization north of Harlem. Now in its 13th season, PTP makes theatre with and for immigrants and members of the Latine, Black, and queer communities to build a more just and equitable world. As of 2019, PTP had a budget of approximately $840,000.

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