Open Letter To Cornelia Street Cafe

text 25 Mar 56 notes Open Letter To Cornelia Street Cafe
"Awful." "Shitty" "Shocking" "Horrifying." "Gross." "Unbelievable." "Outrageous." "Disgusting." "Despicable." 
Those are some comments already posted on my various social media platforms after I informed my friends and followers about last night’s experience at Cornelia Street Cafe, where I witnessed a performer humiliated onstage by a manager who then proceeded to verbally assault a fellow audience member and me.  [Correction: Cornelia informed me via email that he is in fact a “curator,” not a manager, though when we asked a bartender at the time if he was the “manager,” she said yes.]
 
Let me continue: “That really sucks.” “Yelp here I come!” “Good to know.” “They don’t realize how fast word gets around.” “Insulting.” “The owner would be ashamed…” “A fucking nightmare.” “What?!” “Retweeting.” “Sharing this now.”
 
Okay, you get the point.
 
I’ve frequented Cornelia for years, and even visited multiple times last week for various concerts and a CD release party. I have no personal bone to pick with Cornelia Street Cafe. But after seeing Andy Costello, who came from Montreal to perform his 6pm recital Sunday evening, humiliated onstage by your manager because of a poor turnout and an apparently confounding program, and then, after being forced to cut his set short—he had two pieces left, 15 minutes, and this man insisted he “make it ten” because “they needed the room” (the next performance was in an hour-and-a-half)—guilt-tripped even further for having not drawn a crowd and lectured about how much money was lost… well, I was stunned. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Never.
 
When I brought up the fact that I paid a full price, plus drinks, for the performance, and would have liked to have heard the whole program, this manager dismissed the objection, saying “he didn’t give a shit.” Wow. Okay. As one of my friends said: “Good to know.”
 
Does Cornelia, as a venue, not understand the risk in presenting music in New York City (especially a modern program at 6pm on a Sunday)? The New York classical music scene is either like high school, dominated by popular cliques, or like conservatory, where friends come to their friends’ recitals in solidarity. It’s mostly the latter, honestly—every performance I’ve attended at Cornelia has been populated mainly by acquaintances of the performers—and mostly a New York phenomenon. Someone can sell out a show out of town, have a following on the West Coast, and then play to an empty room in New York because they don’t have a devoted following of local friends. It’s reality, and it’s unfortunate, but most of all, it seems to be news to you! Anyway, Andy did his best. He marketed online (that’s how I heard about the show) and spent over a hundred dollars on physical press materials, which he spent fifty dollars sending to the venue. Where were they? Not in the front window, to be sure.
 
As a performer who has sold out venues nationwide but who has also suffered the misfortune of playing to virtually empty halls, I urged the manager to understand that these things happen, that it’s no one’s fault, but that interrupting a recital and tossing out a paying audience (of any size) is unacceptable and an unwise move for a presenter. His response, again, that he “doesn’t give a shit,” came as a shock from which I’ve still not totally recovered. Maybe it’s just that I’m not used to being cursed at, especially by a host at a restaurant where I just paid a bunch of money. The fact that my friend wasn’t paid his cut of the door (it would’ve been $20, but who cares, right?) only adds insult to injury. So my money, for this catastrophic experience, went straight to Cornelia and to no one else. I couldn’t be less pleased.[Cornelia has informed me via email that in a performer’s contract, it states “the first eight covers go to the house.”]
 
But at least I learned something. I learned that if a small audience attends a Cornelia Street Concert, Cornelia pockets all the cash, pays the performer nothing, and audiences are asked to leave early with no refund on their ticket. Got it. It goes without saying, but I also learned that Cornelia Street Cafe “doesn’t give a shit” if its patrons have a good night or not, or if performing artists have a pleasant experiencing presenting work in their space. It’s about money, after all—performers bring their friends to deliver revenue to Cornelia Street Cafe—and if that means ejecting an audience and humiliating the performer to teach us this lesson, so be it. Andy, a real class act, behaved graciously throughout, even though inside he had to have been crumbling, or fuming, or regretting having ever stepped foot in your establishment. I know I was. 
 
It’s my duty as an artist to inform people about this experience. I think it’s very interesting, honestly. My friends and allies in the arts community, as you’ve seen, continue to find other, more imaginative words.
 
Yours,
Adam Tendler
  1. commonsensesensei reblogged this from dissonantstates
  2. srm1138 reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    Wow. I know the first place I’m not visiting when I go to NYC.
  3. frankiesharpe reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    I’m never going there again.
  4. ariajaymusic reblogged this from dissonantstates
  5. iamyoursoundtech reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    I have been to that place, and the Bartender is also Sound man/Bus boy/Box office/Security/Cocktail waiter… How come...
  6. modernpolymath reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    Cornelia Street Cafe is in the Greenwich/West Village area of Downtown Manhattan. Not a huge place, but decently sized...
  7. mikeerrico reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    I generally take these things for what they’re worth - one side of the argument - but artists and venues form a contract...
  8. amoralobligation reblogged this from dissonantstates
  9. zunityofone reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    This is the case with an overwhelming number of venues in NYC.
  10. thesingingstressbaker reblogged this from dissonantstates
  11. markmarshallmusic reblogged this from dissonantstates
  12. ashleyness reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    The behavior described herein is UNACCEPTABLE! For a person trying to run any kind of business. Treat people with...
  13. evanwatkins reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    This is a bummer, rule number 1 in my book is “don’t treat people like garbage.”
  14. scenebygina reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    Hey MUSICIANS, music fans, in #NYC: Read this: “Awful.” “Shitty” “Shocking” “Horrifying.” “Gross.” ”Unbelievable.”...
  15. jennygremlin reblogged this from raasalhayya and added:
    Venues, I understand that business is business. I also understand that treating performers and audiences disrespectfully...
  16. catquarks reblogged this from dissonantstates
  17. raasalhayya reblogged this from dissonantstates
  18. juanmatrujillo reblogged this from dissonantstates
  19. titaniumbovine reblogged this from hipsterizzy
  20. hipsterizzy reblogged this from cdrhom
  21. cdrhom reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    Added to to places to never go/perform.
  22. purplebloodedmajesty reblogged this from dissonantstates
  23. theoreticalconstruct reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    Might be an odd thing for me to repost, but rudeness to artists is rudeness to artists.
  24. billyschultz reblogged this from dissonantstates
  25. freyaviol reblogged this from dissonantstates
  26. restinunvisitedtombs reblogged this from dissonantstates
  27. chilltowntv reblogged this from dissonantstates
  28. gnashnosh reblogged this from dissonantstates
  29. wanderingcellist reblogged this from dissonantstates and added:
    Guess I’ll just add Cornelia St. Cafe to the list of places I’ll never play…
  30. bai-xue88 reblogged this from dissonantstates
  31. nobleviola reblogged this from dissonantstates
  32. urrrchins reblogged this from dissonantstates

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