A group of artists sued Carnegie Hall and the City of New York on Thursday to halt a plan to evict them from areas above the performance institution where they live and work.
For more than a century, writers, musicians and performers have occupied rent-reduced studios and rehearsal spaces directly above Carnegie Hall. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 33 tenants in New York Supreme Court, describes the space as a thriving and vibrant community of artists.
On May 21, Carnegie Hall announced it would evict the tenants to allow for massive renovations to convert the space for its own use, the lawsuit says. The tenants include people who live in rent-controlled apartments, other residential tenants and non-residential tenants.
A representative from Carnegie Hall was not immediately available to respond to the lawsuit, but past local media reports have quoted trustees as saying they need the space for educational programs, rehearsals and backstage areas.
The tenants say that those living in rent-controlled apartments cannot be evicted except in cases where the building in question is to be demolished. The Carnegie Hall Corporation has also failed to obtain approval from the Commissioner of Real Estate, a precondition for making major renovations to the space, according to the lawsuit.
Andrew Bergman, a screenwriter and filmmaker who has worked in the studios for 25 years and is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, told The New York Times that Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball all used the space at one point.
It's a great feeling of an artistic community. If you're a writer, it's great. You can't get that in a building of lawyers, he said.
A spokeswoman for the New York City Law department, Laura Postiglione, said the city had not yet seen the lawsuit.