Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Times gets spoon-fed scoop on Barclays Center concert of cantorial music; unmentioned: cost, capacity, Ratner relationship with Met Council

The New York Times's City Room blog had an exclusive yesterday, Another First for Barclays Center: A Concert of Jewish Music:
The arena he built in Brooklyn has hosted concerts of hip-hop, Latin salsa and reggae, not to mention performances by Dylan, Streisand and the Rolling Stones, but when the genre chosen was Jewish music, Bruce C. Ratner decided to take charge himself.
Mr. Ratner, a real estate developer who cut his musical teeth on cantorial singing at a synagogue in his hometown, Cleveland, is the de facto impresario of a concert at the Barclays Center announced on Tuesday that will feature the violinist Itzhak Perlman and Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, the cantor from the Park East Synagogue in Manhattan who has been a leader in the revival of Jewish liturgical music. 
The two musicians will perform at the 19,000-seat arena on Feb. 28 in an event where food carts will feature glatt kosher food and a special section will most likely be set up with separate seating for men and women, to accommodate the customs of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who make up a sizable share of the Jewish population of Brooklyn. There will be plenty of food selections for Jewish brownstoners and non-Jews as well.
The 19,000 seat arena? Actually, it will be set up theater-style, as noted in the graphic at right, with some 6,000 seats.

The Times goes on to quote Ratner regarding cantorial singing and his friendship with Perlman (their kids attended private school together), and mentions the advertising plan in Jewish newspapers and efforts to expand kosher food offerings.

Cost unmentioned

However enthusiastic Ratner may be about cantorial music--he also "loves" the New York Islanders--he's also a businessman. Unmentioned is how much this might cost. A graphic on the Ticketmaster web site indicates that tickets start at $65.75 and go up to $282.75.

Charity plans

The Times reports:
Profits from the concert, Mr. Ratner said, will benefit the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and the Perlman Music Program, a music camp on Shelter Island, N.Y., started by Mr. Perlman’s wife.
That's very interesting on two fronts.

Unmentioned is the political connection: the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is run by William Rapfogel, a buddy of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a key Atlantic Yards supporter. Spouse Judy Rapfogel works for Silver. Son Michael Rapfogel works for Ratner.

Also unmentioned is whether this qualifies as one of the promised ten community events under the Community Benefits Agreement:
The Arena will be available to Community groups for at least ten (10) events per year, at a reasonable rate, with net proceeds from such events to be used to support non-profit community organizations.
That certainly seems possible, though, if so, we'd be reminded that the Met Council had nothing to do with the CBA or any of its constituent groups.

Meanwhile, unmentioned

As I commented on the Times's web site, meanwhile, the Times hasn't reported on some important news regarding the arena & the larger Atlantic Yards project:
1) the closing of BUILD (Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development), the job-training group that served as a cheerleader for the project. BUILD was the subject of a complaint to the state Attorney General saying the organization misdirected funds even as it owed the IRS a significant sum.

2) the effort by the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, a nonprofit organization significantly influenced by arena developer Forest City Ratner, to establish a new business improvement district (BID) that not only would provide services like sanitation and security, but also manage planning and advocacy issues.

Disclosure

Also, what happened to the once-common disclosure that Forest City Ratner and the New York Times Company were business partners on the Times headquarters tower? Might that not alert editors and readers that there could be another agenda behind the story?

The concert announcement



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