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Help Rebuild The Collective

Article by Sean Mitchell // July 26 2013
Help Rebuild The Collective

Video Transcription:

In December 2010, The Collective School of Music moved from the location the school had been at for 26 years to a new facility on 123 West 18th Street in NYC. Prior to finalizing the lease for the new location on 18th Street, representatives from The Collective were told the new facility was appropriately soundproofed for a music school. The Collective's prospective new landlord even spent a day at the original facility at 541 Avenue of the Americas to witness the noise level. Having spent the day at The Collective, the landlord stated he had no misgivings about having the music school in the new location. 

With assurances of the facility being soundproofed well enough for a music school, construction commenced at 18th Street and the move out of the old location followed suit. Blueprints for a new drum wing and additional soundproofing were signed and approved by the building management at 18th Street. The initial debt brought about by construction and the move eclipsed $300,000. Crews worked six days a week and through the holidays to ensure the new facility would be ready for classes beginning the second week of January 2011. 

On January 10th, 2011, The Collective School of Music started classes for the first time at 123 West 18th Street. Even after weeks of construction noise and hammering day in and day out, calls only began to come in within the first three hours of classes complaining about the noise from the music school. Complaints continued for weeks and it was discovered that the space was not soundproofed as sold to the Collective by the brokers and building management. The Collective worked around the clock for a solution to the problem and still the building management became increasingly uncooperative with the situation. 

In June 2011 the landlord issued a notice to rectify all sound issues or the school faced eviction. An additional $300,000 of soundproofing was installed throughout the facility, however the complaints continued. The Collective hired an independent acoustical consultant to measure sound on the floor below. His readings were that most sound heard was barely audible or inaudible. In the eyes of the landlord, this was not a sufficient remedy and The Collective was drawn into a legal battle costing over $100,000. 

The Collective could no longer afford the court battle and was forced into settlement to save the school. In the settlement the landlord not only ordered the school to vacate the premises, but also to demolish anything that had been built to accommodate the school. In order to save the school, The Collective moved back to 541 Avenue of the Americas where it remains today.  

The Collective has started a fund to help rebuild the school and are asking the help of the drumming industry for donations in order to raise $100,000. The Black Page recently spoke with The Collective's Director Anthony Citrinite to shed some light on the situation. 

Anthony, this must be a humble time for the school in that you have had to reach out to the drumming community for donations. What is the situation like for The Collective at the moment? 

It's a tough thing to have to ask for money. We're not a government-funded school; we're not a non-profit, so I get it. Our project is still thriving. We want to continue to do what we've been doing for 36 years. And unfortunately, three years ago we fell into some issues that we could've never imagined. We did everything by the book and we fell into this issue that we could not solve. 

Why the decision to move in the first place? 

I think it was a mixture of many things. During 2009 to 2010, myself and the three owners were discussing the future and realizing our lease was going to be up soon. The new lease that we were getting, the rent was being tripled. At that time, the economy and real estate in New York was at an all-time low. We decided it was in our best interest to not sign the lease renewal right away and see if we could find something that was not as expense—and we really did need more space. 

I looked at so many spaces over those six months. We ended up finding this place on 18th Street; the rent was cheaper, it was double the size, and it was presented to us as sound-proof. The landlord was gung-ho to get us in there. He came and spent a full day in our facility to make sure he understood what we did and agreed to us doing that at his building. Everything just seemed perfect and to be falling into place, so we went ahead and did it. We signed the lease with them in August 2010. 

On January 10, 2011, we started classes—and on that day I got my first complaint. All of the construction, none of that stuff disturbed them, but the day they heard drumming coming from our space was the day they started complaining. 

Will The Collective survive at this point? 

Honestly, we would've closed if we didn't have this place to come back to. That was a big part of our being able to survive. We lucked out. How on earth could somebody leave a place and then two-and-a-half years later come back to the same place and open shop again? 

But we're faced with years getting out of debt. We've never been a flourishing business; we've always been the type of business that goes month-to-month. We've never been a rich business, but what we're rich in is our faculty and our curriculum and the brand that we have built up over the last 36 years. That has kept us alive and doing what we do best in this industry—and arming students with the necessary skills they need to become professional musicians. We've been doing that for years and we're just looking to continue doing that, and in order to do that you need a facility, a faculty, a curriculum and you need to pay the bills. We've always been able to make it work, but now making it work will be a lot harder with this debt hanging over our heads. The sooner we pay that off, the more value we can add to what we do.

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A Messaage from The Black Page's Sean Mitchell

Our chosen instrument is loud and the extent we go to to appease irritated neighbors is often a moot point. On a very personal level, I am asking you, our reader, and the drum community at large to help The Collective with a cash donation of $10. Power resides in numbers and the responsibility in taking care of your own. For the cost of a pair of drumsticks, 10,000 of us could help The Collective rebuild. 

Click on this link http://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=6454 to make your donation. Fractured Atlas is a 501(c)(3) public charity. Contributions for the purposes of The Collective SP and L initiatives are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. 




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About the Author
Sean Mitchell

Sean Mitchell has been an active participant in the drumming industry for over 20 years. He has studied under Crash Test Dummies drummer Mitch Dorge and Drumming's Global Ambassador Dom Famularo. Sean is also a songwriter and regularly performs with his wife (and singer) Jill Mitchell. Sean proudly endorses Aquarian Drumheads.



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