People's LES News

A New Mural by Raul Ayala
at Downtown Art, 70 E 4th St

This mural, commissioned by Downtown Art and The People's LES, reflects and celebrates the stories and history of artists and organizers on 4th street and throughout the Lower East Side. We thank the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs for funding the project and La Mama for allowing Raul to paint on their wall! For the first phase, Downtown Art, Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, Cooper Square Committee, Frances Goldin, and Clara Lemlich are all reflected. The piece can be seen from 3rd street between 2nd Ave and Bowery. 
Marking the 30th Anniversary of the Tompkins Square Riot
an evening spent remembering and reflecting on the police riot, with photos by Q Sakamaki

In August, we revisited the Tompkins riot through the words of those who lived it with a reading of excerpts of first hand accounts skillfully compiled into a script by Ryan Gilliam (Downtown Art) and read by Zen Anton, Lena Feliciano, Oscar Hallas & Dakota Scott followed by an open dialogue facilitated by Noa Fuller (Below the Grid Lab) on the riot's aftermath in the context of gentrification in our neighborhood. Thank you to all who attended and brought their voice to our discussion.
Collaboration with NYU
with Dr. Dipti Desai, Jessica Hamlin, and students at The Art, Education, and Community Practice
Program at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development

This Fall, graduate students in Jessica Hamlin's class are working to create curriculum around themes of LES history which are relevant to ongoing community issues while students in Dr. Dipti Desai's class will interview LES Community Heroes so that we may capture voices of those who have dedicated themselves to our neighborhood. We greatly appreciate their contributions and look forward to sharing them with you all come January!
A Big Thank You to the Office of City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera 
For a $15,000 grant as part of the New York City Council’s Cultural Immigrant Initiative. We look forward to expanding our work to capture the immigrant stories of our neighborhood. Thank you, gracias, 谢谢!

Fall Events

Imagining the LES: Creating Community
Saturday, November 3
Grand Street Settlement at the Frances Goldin Senior Apartments, enter at 168 Broome St

SPARC and Below the Grid Lab will host a day of activities to celebrate the past, present, and future of the SPURA community (now renamed Essex Crossing). Fifty years ago a vibrant community of multi-racial/ethnic residents and the tenement buildings they inhabited was destroyed by Urban Renewal. Now a new community of mixed income buildings, including 500 affordable apartments, is rising from these empty lots. This event attempts to begin to knit together the old and new and imagine a strong vision of a more equitable and just neighborhood.. 
Interior Lives: Photographs of Chinese Americans in the 1980s by Bud Glick
Opening Thursday, October 18
Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre St
More Info

In 1981, the New York Chinatown History Project (now the Museum of Chinese in America) commissioned photographer Bud Glick to document the street life, people, and domestic scenes of Chinatown during a time of major changes in the neighborhood. Glick’s remarkable photographs capture a pivotal moment in Chinatown’s history. Recently he has re-connected with some of his subjects from over 30 years ago to conduct interviews with them about their lives, then and now.
The Lenape Center Symposium
Saturday, October 13
Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street
More Info

The Lenape Center presents a day-long platform of discussions and performances that addresses the complex histories of colonization and the potential for art institutions to influence more equitable futures for Indigenous communities.
Tenement Talk: Life and Death on the LES
Monday, October 15
Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard St
More Info

In 1918 the Spanish Flu pandemic killed an estimated 50 million people world-wide. One-hundred years later, The Tenement Museum looks back on its impact on the world, city, and the Lower East Side. In considering the flu’s legacy, they’ll also explore how this disease changed approaches to public health and how today’s immigrant communities get access to the health care resources that they need. Co-sponsored by Henry Street Settlement.
The East Village in the 1980s: a conversation with Penny Arcade, Clayton Patterson, Chris Rael
Friday, October 19
Tompkins Square Library, 331 E 10th St
More Info

To kick off the opening of A Look Back on the East Village of the 1980s, an exhibition running through November 1st at Tompkins Square Library, Andy McCarthy (reference librarian at the Milstein Division of US History, Local History, and Genealogy at NYPL) will moderate a discussion with long-time East Village artists. 
Guided Tour of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church’s Slave Galleries
Starting Wednesday, November 14 
St. Augustine's Episcopal Church, 290 Henry St 
More Info

St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church is one of the last remaining churches that has maintained the structural integrity of its “slave galleries,” the upper level of the sanctuary where enslaved people and free people of color were forced to worship segregated from the white congregation. On the 190th anniversary of the church, join Abrons Arts Center for a series of intimate guided tours.
Shuls of Grandeur on the Lower East Side 
Monday, October 8
Bialystoker Synagogue, 7-11 Willett Street 
More Info

Visit two grand synagogues remaining on the Lower East Side today. One is the first great house of worship built by Eastern European Jews, and the other a former church, believed to be a site on the Underground Railroad. Starting at Bialystoker Synagogue, the largest active orthodox congregation on the LES today, covered in murals, showcasing Tiffany inspired glass windows, and ending at the Museum at Eldridge Street.
Taste of the East Village: A benefit for Cooper Square Committee
Saturday, October 6
E 7th St btwn Cooper Sq and 2nd Ave
More Info

The Taste of the East Village brings together around 20 of the East Village’s favorite chefs and restaurants to benefit the Cooper Square Committee’s housing programs, and to promote the Gofundme campaign of EVIMA’s President, Jimmy Carbone, a co-founder of the festival.
6th & B Community Garden Annual Harvest Festival
Saturday, October 6 
6th & B Garden, 6th St at Ave B
More Info

35 Years and still growing, with a bar-b-que, live music & a raffle of amazing prizes from local merchants. Support the garden and enjoy a day of fun!
LES Arts Weekend
Starting Saturday, October 20 
Downtown Art, 70 E 4th St
More Info

Learn about opportunities for artists — residencies, fellowships, workshops, classes, affordable workspace — from 17 Lower East Side arts organizations!

Ways to Participate and Get Involved

Link your programming

A walking tour, a story circle, an exhibition... your organization may have something planned we don't know about but would love to promote on our calendar! Let us know if you think your programming ties in to our mission.


Add to The People's LES

Does your organization have a story, oral history project piece of writing, lesson plan or photo archive you'd like to share? Let's add it to

The People's LES is a year-round program which celebrates "a people’s history" of the Lower East Side, an extension of FABnyc and Downtown Art's work together establishing Lower East Side History Month which marked its fifth anniversary this May. Check the project out at
FABnyc's mission is to strengthen the cultural vitality of the Lower East Side. We implement this mission through a range of programs and collaborations with local cultural organizations, independent artists, community-based organizations and neighborhood nonprofits. We work as cultural producers, facilitators, and organizers with an ongoing interest in how arts and culture can advance community health, inclusiveness, and equity.

Downtown Art has a history of working with young artists and community members to create performance, festivals, and other special events. Through our art and collaborations, we seek to build a community of engagement, creativity, and mutual support. We have been resident for more than two decades on East 4th Street in the East Village/Lower East Side. Now that we have opened a new cultural and community center on East 4th Street, we are broadening our mission to build programs which support equity and diversity in the arts, cultural organizing, community and civic engagement
Ryan Gilliam - Executive Director
Kim Golding - Dance Block Associate
Emilio Martinez Poppe - Programs Manager
KT Pe Benito - Dance Block Manager
Dakota Scott - Director of Special Projects, Project Manager for The People's LES
Addison Vawters - Operations Manager
Board: Tomie Arai, Dipti Desai, Winston Estevez, Lee Ann Gullie, Molaundo Jones, Jasmina Sinanovic, Ela Troyano

Ryan Gilliam - Artistic/Executive Director
Antigona Gonzalez - Technical Director
Peter Hansen - Design and Construction Advisor
Michael Hickey - Music Director
Tina Orlandini - Web and Graphics Design
Dakota Scott - Associate Director
Board: Elena Feliciano, Kristin Giantris, Ryan Gilliam, Sam Greenhoe, Michael Hickey, Rosemary Quinn
FABnyc programs are supported in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support  of  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, New York City Small Business Services, City Councilmembers Rosie Mendez and Margaret Chin, Mellon Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, Harkness Foundation, Con Edison, Association for Neighborhood Housing and Development, La Vida Feliz Foundation, the Beacon Group, and CNY Arts.
Downtown Art programs are supported in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with the City Council, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support  of  Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, The NYU Community Fund, Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts / NY, the van Itallie Foundation, and the Joseph V. Melillo Charitable Fund.
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Fourth Arts Block · 61 East 4th Street · New York, NY 10003 · USA