The Lower East Side Biography Project - Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia

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The Lower East Side Biography Project - Stemming the Tide of Cultural Amnesia

Steve Zehentner Created by Steve Zehentner Plus

The Lower East Side Biography Project is a biography series and oral history archive that was created in 1999 by theater artist Penny Arcade and video producer Steve Zehentner. The LES Biography Project’s biographies and archive works to ensure that future generations have access to the mad souls of invention that built this New York City neighborhood's reputation as an incubator for authenticity, rebellion and iconoclasm.

The project seeks to stem the tide of cultural amnesia by bridging the cultural gap between long time residents of New York’s Lower East Side and newcomers to the rapidly


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The Lower East Side Biography Project is a biography series and oral history archive that was created in 1999 by theater artist Penny Arcade and video producer Steve Zehentner. The LES Biography Project’s biographies and archive works to ensure that future generations have access to the mad souls of invention that built this New York City neighborhood's reputation as an incubator for authenticity, rebellion and iconoclasm.

The project seeks to stem the tide of cultural amnesia by bridging the cultural gap between long time residents of New York’s Lower East Side and newcomers to the rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. To this end, the LES Biography Project has a community-media training component where young filmmakers are trained in production and post-production technologies. They become shepherds of an individual oral history that they edit into a 28-minute biography.

The project’s biographies cablecast on television in New York City every Monday at 11pm EST on Time Warner Channel 34, RCN 82, FIOS 33, and stream live on Manhattan Neighborhood Network Channel One mnn.org/live/1-community-channel

For the current cablecast schedule, see the LES Biography Project Facebook page facebook.com/LowerEastSideBiographyProject

Since its inception, the LES Biography Project has trained over forty individuals, completed forty-six 28-minute biographies and filmed seventy oral history interviews and dozens of memorials and live events. The project’s archive holds over 1300 entries.

The Lower East Side Biography Project is produced by Penny Arcade and Steve Zehentner and associate produced by Dean Lance and Rick Jungers. Through the fiscal sponsorship of ABC No Rio, the project has been funded in part by the New York State Council on the Arts and Manhattan Neighborhood Network.

The Theatre of Penny Arcade vimeo.com/groups/pennyarcade

Independent film projects from Steve Zehentner vimeo.com/groups/stevezehentner

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