Already busy with the reopening of the Bimbo Rivas Performance Space and the hosting of several Fringe Festival shows, the organizers of the CHARAS/El Bohio Community Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan have called for an Aug. 16 demonstration against real estate developer Gregg Singer.
Singer purchased the CHARAS building, formerly New York Public School 64, from the City of New York at auction. With the city as its landlord, CHARAS operated at 605 E. Ninth St. for over 20 years. The community center has sought to block the Singer sale, claiming it has a legitimate claim to occupancy and that its offer to purchase the building was not properly considered. CHARAS has held demonstrations every time the new owner or his agents have attempted to show the building.
As reported on June 29, Present Company artistic director John Clancy and CHARAS Community Center organizer Susan Howard pooled their resources to create five mini "venues" within the CHARAS building to stage Fringe Festival events. (The Bimbo Rivas, located in the facility's basement, will be one of the five Fringe venues at CHARAS.) The theatre's namesake, Bimbo Rivas, was a popular Lower East Side poet and playwright. The Latino Theatre Workshop was conducted in the Bimbo Rivas for several years before problems with the ventilation system forced it to close.
On April 3,1999 CHARAS founder, Democratic district leader and community activist Armando Perez died after being assaulted outside his wife's apartment in Queens. Perez' murder remains under investigation.
-- By Murdoch McBride