In a city where soaring rents too often necessitate crass commercialism to pay the bills, 5C on Avenue C in the far East Village (Losaida) is in the vanguard of alternative storefronts, offering the discriminating New York consumer an oasis of unique cultural enlightenment and a good cup of coffee to boot. 5C is smoke free and no alcoholic beverages are permitted.
5C is a nonprofit arts and education center founded in 1995 which Bruce Morris and I operate. He is a jazz historian and producer; I am a 25-year member of Local 802, a high school teacher and a jazz pianist.
Over the years we have provided free or low-charge piano lessons to students of all ages and free math tutoring to high school students. We have also produced over 300 live music performances using piano, voice and acoustic string instruments such as bass, cello, violin and sitar. We also offer guided listening sessions featuring America’s classical music – jazz.
Although we hope to expand our coffee, juice and music emporium to include a wider scope of instruments, we are fighting a court injunction which has been in place since 1995, limiting us to the use of string instruments only. This injunction forbids drums, saxophone, trumpet and even flute to be played or taught at 5C. New York State Supreme Court Judge Edward H. Lehner will not budge on lifting this injunction, which we consider to be totally unconstitutional, that was demanded by our landlord. Despite our installation of quality soundproofing in the facility, we are still fighting the landlord on this issue. He has not allowed our sound engineer access to the building areas above us to take readings that would show that we are in compliance with code, even though the court has ordered the sound test.
I am writing to urge my fellow 802 members for any legal aid or assistance you can provide to overcome this unjust hardship, and to ask you to help inform others of this situation. New York City needs more venues for performances. Jazz musicians should not be deprived of opportunities to make a living.
One way you can help is by adding your name to the petition (see sample of form) that we are circulating. Among the musicians who have signed so far, including many 802 members, are Thomas Abbs, Robin Allday, Newman Taylor Baker, Andrew Bemkey, Cameron Brown, John Blum, Will Connell, Jerome Cooper, Don Deering, Jesse Dulman, Charles Eubanks, Joe Falcon, Gerard Faroux, Walter Fischbacher, Charles Gayle, Arthur Green, Richard Harper, Craig D. Harris, Max Isaacson, Rozanne Levine, Al Maddy, Zane Massey, Makanda Ken McIntyre, Wilber Morris, Ras Moshe, Bern Nix, Eve Packer, Charli Persip, John R. Shea, Matthew Shipp, Arthur Sterling, Andrei Strobert, Clsyton Thomas, James Vass, Mark Whitecage, Booker T. Williams and Reggie Workman.
To learn more about the 5C Cultural Center, call us at (212) 477-5993, write us, or visit the center at 68 Avenue C (at the corner of Fifth Street) in Manhattan, Tuesday to Saturday from 4 until 10 p.m.