Open Letter to Community Board 7: Save Crafts On Columbus
Dear Ms. Caputo and the Esteemed Members of Community Board 7:
I am writing to express my support for Crafts On Columbus, an extremely valuable part of your neighborhood’s history and local culture. The benefits it provides are important to the Upper West Side.
For 30 years, Crafts On Columbus has featured artisan entrepreneurs who earn their living by selling the things they make. Despite perceptions that I have read to the contrary, I have found the quality and integrity of the products beneath the artisans’ tents to be outstanding. It is such a pleasure to see people strolling beneath the giant trees, admiring the beautiful things that catch their eye, holding conversations with the makers and with other shoppers, and finding treasures for themselves. I especially love seeing families out at this time of year, helping their moms pick out a special Mother’s Day gift.
The economic impact of Crafts on Columbus is significant. For most of the vendors, this event is a major source of annual revenue. They come back year after year because this is where their customers are, both new and returning. In addition to their own livelihoods, these makers often employ sales people and additional studio assistants to participate in these events. Craft shoppers support local businesses too. Unlike the street fairs that block traffic and keep regular customers from visiting their local shops, Crafts On Columbus takes place on a sidewalk that has no commercial businesses on it. I am certainly not the only shopper to visit the coffee shops and restaurants in that area primarily because I’m up there for this event, or for the Greenflea. These establishments welcome the bump in sales.
While I understand that there is concern about the additional crowds on neighborhood’s sidewalks, the shoppers at Crafts On Columbus are not hoards of tourists racing to Central Park or the Natural History Museum. These are New Yorkers mostly, or people visiting family in New York, and people who love and appreciate handmade crafts. By the same token, with over 50 million tourists in the city each year, few neighborhoods are immune from crowds these days.
We don’t live in New York for peace and quiet. We live here because it is a vibrant, brilliant and amazing city. We are here to find out what will happen each time we step out our front door. Every day, I read laments about New York losing its creative class. The Upper West Side itself is known as a bastion of intellectuals and creative people. And so I am confused by the critique that Crafts On Columbus is a disturbance to the neighborhood. By contrast, we should be mobbing this event to make sure we show our support for these designers, makers and artists so they can continue to contribute to our city’s cultural heritage.
I encourage you, Mayor deBlasio, Manhattan Borough President Brewer and Council Member Rosenthal to reconsider the decision to bring Crafts On Columbus to an end. Rather, be remembered as the leaders who kept a legacy of creativity, arts, culture and commerce alive and thriving on the Upper West Side.
Karen E. Seiger
Author, Blogger, Market Enthusiast
NOTE: The Petition to Save Crafts On Columbus has reached over 1,000 signatures.
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