Despite Bloomberg’s crackdown, loft-performance space thrives in Brooklyn

December 29, 2011 09:22AM

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From left: Mayor Bloomberg and Silent Barn, a loft-performance space that was shut down earlier this year
Since the days Rudolph Giuliani reined as mayor of New York City, the police, fire and building departments have cracked down on lofts that double as living and performance space.

Though it has discouraged some, the Village Voice reported that the practice, which dates back to the 1930s, is still widespread.

The crackdown, dubbed Multi-Agency Response to Community Hotspots (MARCH), was initiated by the Giuliani administration after the Happy Land fire in 1990, and it gained steam through the Bloomberg administration, which has increased MARCH activity by 35 percent.

“If you listen to stories about what led to this homicide or what led to this assault, you would be surprised how many stem from nightclubs,” Robert Messner, a police commissioner who oversaw club shutdowns, once said. “We don’t want those places in New York.”

Artists complain that spaces in which they can legally showcase their work and live are hard to come by. As a result, though loft-performance spaces are virtually extinct in ever-crowded Manhattan — where noise complaints tip off city bureaucracy — they are still widespread in much of Brooklyn. The Voice said the city is simply too large to extinguish a staple of the artistic community. [Village Voice]