It’s incredibly hard to run a small business anywhere, but especially in NYC. There is a lot of competition. The transit to and from your location isn’t always reliable. Rent is incredibly high. Landlords are content to cut corners and meet bare minimum requirements rather than properly maintain their properties. The city regulations and its agencies are merciless and constant. There is a reason that rows of commercial districts are filled with For Lease signs and empty storefronts in every borough. Williamsburg in particular has become a high end strip mall where Cameo, Death By Audio, Glasslands, and Trash Bar used to regularly host local artists and musicians on a nightly basis.
I should preface this statement with how much I love the Footlight. I appreciate all the success we have had and what we have created as a team. In my mind we have succeeded in everything we set out to do with this space. Regardless of all our successes, keeping Footlight afloat has been really challenging. The Footlight has operated under some of the worst circumstances any small business could possibly have; Sewage back-ups, a rotted roof, increasingly volatile and inclement weather and a landlord who refuses to make necessary repairs. As a business we are doing exactly what is expected. I didn’t see myself driving a convertible, wearing a fur coat, and lighting cigars with $100 bills by year three. We have unfortunately suffered insurmountable obstacles that have been costly and have held our operations back significantly. We entered into our lease over three (3) years ago, knowing that it would be a challenge to open Footlight armed only with a dream to open a unique artist/performance space in our community and on a shoe-string budget. We knew that the space had been neglected for years and that there were existing conditions that needed to be corrected. We were assured by our Landlord-to-be that he would attend to these issues and we took the plunge and signed the Lease. However, after over three (3) years of fighting with the Landlord to get him to live up to his obligations under the Lease and having to pay out of our own pockets for some of the repairs that were clearly the responsibility of our Landlord, we recently suffered a set-back in court, whereby the judge inexplicably ordered us to pay the back rent first without consideration of any sums that the Landlord owes us for his failure to abide by the terms of our Lease. This is highly unusual as a so-called abatement hearing usually occurs first in court before the judge decides how much rent, if any, that the tenant owes. As such, we were recently compelled to agree to pay the past due rent and to delay any abatement hearing until 2020.
We are fighting to stay open. Footlight brings something to the surrounding artist community and Ridgewood that is important. The character that makes NYC a magical weird place is dwindling. The creative community cannot continue without spaces and platforms to make work. If you agree, please consider becoming a sustaining member of Footlight through WithFriends. It’s never going to be easy to run this small quirky art space. Your patronage is what fuels us, monetarily and spiritually. We hope to laugh with you soon, knock back a tea shot, and make art together. Thank you so much to all of our Footlight Fam that donated some cash for our birthday last weekend. It is pretty humbling to be a part of such a generous and supportive community. Please share our posts and let’s keep this Footlight dream alive for years to come.