THE CLEMENTE VÉLEZ CULTURAL & EDUCATIONAL CENTER
107 Suffolk Street, Manhattan
1897, Charles B. J. Snyder
This building was originally constructed as P.S. 160 and designed by C. B. J. Snyder for the NYC Board of Education, but after a fire in the 1970’s, then Mayor Abraham Beame designated it for community use. In 1981, the community organization Solidaridad Humana began operating a school in the building for Spanish-speaking immigrants. After financial constraints led to the school’s closure in the late 1980’s, some of its former students started a theater here called Teatro LATEA (Latin American Theatre Experiment and Associates), which continues today. In 1993, Puerto Rican poet Edgardo Vega Yunqué, Uruguayan actor/director Nelson Landrieu and Dominican actor Mateo Gomez acquired the lease and created the Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural and Educational Center. Named for the inspirational Puerto Rican poet and activist, the organization’s initial mission was to nurture the work of Puerto Rican and Latin American artists in the Latino community of the Lower East Side known as Loisaida. While this remains a focus, for more than 25 years the Clemente has served as an exhibition and performance venue that reflects, cultivates and celebrates the neighborhood’s rich cultural diversity.