Live music was being played on the steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall as community members held signs mocking Time Warner Cable’s slogan, with signs that read, “You Can’t Enjoy Better Without The Arts.”
Protesters were voicing their opposition to Time Warner Cable’s decision to drop the Ovation network from its listings because of low viewership.
Citizens for Access to the Arts, a nonprofit coalition advocating for arts programming, in a statement called Ovation “the only cable network dedicated to the arts and artistic expression, and often the only form of access to arts and culture for minority and disadvantaged communities.”
“It is very hard for a large percent of the population to have any access to the arts with funding being cut in schools and public facilities,” said Rage Lieber, executive director of Citizens for Access to the Arts. “And it’s increasingly expensive to go to a Broadway show.”
Time Warner Cable spokesman Eric Mangan disagrees. Along with the Internet, he said there are plenty of museums and other art venues that are free or have a suggested donation to attend events.
“We agree that arts are important,” Mangan said. However he explained that in Time Warner’s opinion Ovation wasn’t providing that. He said that the network showed old movies, re-runs, infomercials and Antiques Roadshow.
Mangen said that the cable company was dropping Ovation because of poor viewership. He noted that Time Warner still carries channels like PBS and A&E, which provide arts programming.
Brooklyn native and actress Rosie Perez attended the rally. Perez is also the chair of the board for Urban Arts Partnership, an organization that brings integrated art programming to underserved public school students.
“My life was shaped by the access I had to the arts,” she said. “I didn’t grow up with means, I couldn’t afford to go to Broadway. Having a network like Ovation brought so much joy to my life and I know it brings so much joy to young peoples lives.
“The arts told me it was okay to smile, it was okay to dance, it was okay cry,” Perez continued. “Without the arts I don’t know who I would have been.”