Fourth Street Arts District Gets Big Boost

62_64 pre-shots162-64 4th, Before Renovation

Next Saturday the artistic haven on Fourth Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue will mark a major milestone, as two newly renovated buildings will be officially opened, and crews will break ground on a Latino cultural center.

Fourth Arts Block, the group overseeing the development of the Fourth Street arts district, is hosting the ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings, which will coincide with the FAB! Festival of performances, food and other street-fair fare.

Tamara Greenfield, the executive director of FAB, heralded the upgraded facilities — which were renovated with $10 million in public financing, as well as some private funds — as vital new spaces for artists and their audience.

“These groups have been working out of the buildings for years, but they were homesteading,” Ms. Greenfield said. “They couldn’t get financing to repair them. The buildings needed a lot of work.”

The two facilities set to open are the Rod Rodgers & Duo Multicultural Arts Center at 62 East Fourth Street and the New York Theatre Workshop’s Scenic & Costume Design Shop at 72 East Fourth Street.

IMG_331262 4th, After Renovation

The Multicultural Arts Center will house artists in residence for around three to six months at a time. The artists will be able to present their works in the building’s theater. Three stories of the five-story building — which is notable for its bizarre cylindrical fire escape — were vacant for years, but now will be used for dance rehearsals and art installations.

The Scenery and Costume Design Shop, meanwhile, will be an entirely new space in a former garage. Ms. Greenfield noted that there aren’t many set design workshops left in Manhattan. “It’s exciting to have one here in the middle of the arts district,” she said.

Construction will also begin on 64E4 at — you guessed it — 64 East Fourth Street. Teatro Circulo, Paradise Factory and IATI Theater have already been using the dilapidated building, but after what is expected to be a year of renovations on the previously unusable ground floor and basement, they will each have a floor of the Latino cultural center to themselves.

Though Ms. Greenfield said that an arts group’s work is never done, she did acknowledge that the new facilities are a major upgrade in accommodations for the artists that work on the block — many of whom have been there since the 1970s.

“Thankfully, in the East Village and Lower East Side we have a tremendous amount of art space owned by artists that have been here for decades,” she said. “We’re preserving a rich and diverse community that’s been here for a long time.”