Vanessa and Arnette sit down at Montez Press Radio on Canal Street to talk about the fight against the megatowers proposed for Two Bridges, and the displacement issues going on today in the Lower East Side. They are joined by special guests: Arnette’s mother and lifelong activist, Barbara, and AAD founder/member Margaret Lee. The conversation covers topics including the day-to-day work of coalition building, gentrification’s negative impacts on health, disarming defensiveness, fostering accountability, how getting involved in community work can make you a better artist, and how breath—both physical and metaphorical—animates this fight.
Arnette C. Scott is a third generation Lower East Side resident and a mother of two young girls. She is an active member of her community and was an executive member of the District One, Community Education Council for more than five years. She studied acting at the Abrons Art Center and attributes that experience to her ability to passionately convey the narrative of the hopes and challenges of a Lower East Side resident.
Vanessa Thill is an artist and writer from Berkeley, California who has lived in New York for ten years. Her sculptural work reflects daunting aspects of environmental catastrophe, as well as an endlessly renewing spirit of hope. Her exhibition Cleave-To is on view through June 9 at Larrie NYC, who co-promoted this session.
This conversation is brought to you by Art Against Displacement (AAD), a coalition of artists and arts professionals based in Manhattan’s Chinatown and Lower East Side that seeks to amplify the demands of those whose lives and livelihoods are placed at risk by predatory development and resettlement, and to work in solidarity with grassroots organizations toward community-led rezoning. The group affirms that gentrification is not an inevitable effect of urban development, and refuses to let the work of cultural producers be instrumentalized towards the displacement of long-term residents and businesses.