TESTIMONY

February 13, 2017 Testimony of the Broadway Association on Introductions 799 and 1107-A before the New York City Council Committee on Finance

Good afternoon Chairwoman Ferreras -Copeland and Members of the Finance Committee.  My name is Josh Knoller and I’m testifying on behalf of the Broadway Association in support of Intros 799 and 1107-A.

The Broadway Association, founded in 1911, is a not-for-profit business association devoted to the cultural and economic betterment of midtown west, which comprises the Broadway theater district.  Our members include property owners, major corporations, hotels, advertisers, unions, civic associations, theater companies, banks, and others.  The Association works to foster the healthy climate that ushered in the development renaissance we currently enjoy.

The Broadway Association supports Intro 1107-A which exempts the advertising of theatrical productions from the Commercial Rent Tax (CRT) for one year.  While I’m sure the Council is aware of the small minority of Broadway productions that enjoy outstanding financial success, what is underreported is the number of productions that close rather quickly—sometimes in a matter of months or even weeks.  In addition to not achieving financial success, these productions are now also being hit by a Department of Finance audit of the CRT retroactively.  What this means is that shows that have opened and closed in a matter of weeks, in some cases years ago, are now being billed for a tax on any billboard advertising that promoted the show for its limited run. 

The theater industry provides great economic and cultural benefits to New York City, which is unmatched anywhere else in the world.  But with a healthy industry comes a competitive barrier to entry that relies almost entirely on early ticket sales.  Advertising is a key method for reaching tourists and New Yorkers alike about new theater offerings and a CRT applied retroactively can be cost-prohibitive to the advertising of new productions. 

The Broadway Association also supports Introduction 799 which would exempt businesses with annual rent of less than $500,000 from paying the CRT.  With sky-high commercial rents, the Broadway Association wants to ensure that Manhattan remains a commercially diverse destination.  This legislation would help ease the burden for smaller, independent commercial tenants which are the fabric of our city.

We thank Council Member Garodnick for introducing these bills that help foster new cultural offerings and commercial diversity and we urge the Finance Committee to pass this legislation.

Thank you for your consideration.

 

October 13, 2016  Letter to Office of Citywide Coordination and Management Regarding Proposed Street Fair Permit Rules

 

October 13, 2016

 

Mr. Michael Paul Carey

Executive Director

Office of Citywide Coordination and Management

253 Broadway, 6th Floor

New York, New York 10007

 

Dear Mr. Carey:

 

On behalf of the Broadway Association, I am writing in support of the proposed Amendment to SAPO’s Street Fair Permit rules to limit the number of street festival and single block street festival permits that can be issued annually within a community board, within Manhattan, and citywide.

 

The Broadway Association is a 105-year-old business association devoted to the cultural and economic betterment of Midtown West in Manhattan.  Our membership includes property owners, major corporations, hotels, advertisers, unions, civic associations, theater companies, developers, banks, law firms, airlines, non-profits and publishers.  Working together with city and state entities, the Broadway Association strives to preserve and protect our district through community engagement.

 

As you are aware, the Theater District is extremely congested.  According to the Times Square Alliance, peak pedestrian traffic is 480,000 people per day in Times Square, and the vehicular numbers often exceed the daily pedestrian counts.  The ongoing construction in the area is also exacerbating an already overcrowded space which is extremely difficult to navigate for both New Yorkers and the millions of tourists visiting Times Square each year. 

 

Currently, 10% of all street fairs in the City take place in Times Square and the area has more street fairs than anywhere else in the City.  This is an overburden for a district which cannot manage the traffic flow without the added congestion of a street fair.  New Yorkers and visitors are increasingly avoiding the area due to congestion. 

 

We support the proposed amended rules and thank you for your consideration on this important matter.

 

Sincerely,

 Cristyne L. Nicholas

Chairman, Broadway Association             

 

 

November 19, 2014 NYC Council Committee on Consumer Affairs

Chairman Cristyne L. Nicholas Remarks on City Council Intro 467 on Licensing of Costumer Performers

Thank you Chairman Espinal and fellow committee members for the opportunity to testify here today. My name is Cristyne Nicholas, and I am the Chairman of the Broadway Association.  

The Broadway Association, founded in 1911, is one of the City's oldest non-for-profit business associations formed by a group of local business leaders and civic-minded individuals that were and still are dedicated to the preservation, development and economic betterment of the Times Square and West Midtown Community.  Our distinguished membership includes Broadway Theater owners and operators, hotels, restaurant owners, airlines, developers, law firms, local business improvement districts including the Times Square Alliance who is here testifying today, members of the media, sign operators and so forth.

One of, if not our core issue, is quality of life, not just for our membership but for the 13 million Broadway-goers coming through our district annually and for the over 300,000 people passing through the Crossroads of the World every single day.  The Broadway Association has a distinguished history of speaking out when a particular issue negatively affects our district.  In fact, the Broadway Association was founded because subway construction going on at the time was a danger to pedestrians.  More recently, we were active in the 1990s supporting the creation of the Midtown Community Court which helped reduce crime and improve safety in the area and we continue to remain vocal on behalf of the membership.  And now once again, we are under siege, by performers dressed as costumed characters.

The way these individuals, who are typically dressed as Sesame Street characters or superheroes, behave and conduct themselves is absolutely unacceptable by any means.  I recall one incident where a young child had to witness her mother being harassed by “Elmo” because the tip the mother left wasn’t good enough. 

Our membership has also seen firsthand how aggressive and intimidating these costumed characters can be and local media have regularly reported incident after incident of violent interactions amongst each other and with local law enforcement.    

Everything that symbolizes the good in what these costumes represent has been tainted by the few individuals who don these costumes. We recognize there are only a few “bad eggs” or “Elmos” in this case, but it’s those few bad “Elmos” that negatively impact New York City's image as one of the friendliest cities in the world and its spot atop the leader board as the number one tourism destination in the country.

The Broadway Association supports the City Council's efforts to put a name behind the mask and provide a mechanism for law enforcement to take meaningful action and weed out those few bad “Elmos.”  

While the Broadway Association feels that there is no place for these costumed characters in Times Square or anywhere on the streets of New York City for that matter, this legislation is a step in the right direction as long as the City keeps a close watchful eye on how these individuals operate and ensure they adhere to all licensing requirements and background checks.

With tourism in Times Square pumping billions of tax revenue into our City, we must put our best foot forward to make sure that anyone who visits, lives or works in the Times Square area feels safe. Thank you for the opportunity to testify here today and the Broadway Association looks forward to working with you.

 

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