F, J, M, Z at Delancey St.-Essex St.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU
Named after a famous Puerto Rican poet and founded by a trio of Latino arts supporters, including writer Ed Vega (Suzanne Vega’s stepdad), Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center is one of New York’s largest art incubators. Fifty-three visual artists occupy studios on the building's top three floors, while thirteen performing-arts troupes vie for space in the four theaters and multiple rehearsal areas below. The first- and second-floor galleries host a wide array of exhibits by predominantly Latino artists of both local and international hues, while ensembles like Teatro Latea, FELT (Fantastic Experimental Latino Theater), and the leading children’s company Teatro SEA (Society for Educated Arts) mount stage productions year-round. After years of neglect, in 2006 the city coughed up $4.5 million for restorations to the block-long building’s Dutch Neo-Gothic façade, its two downstairs theaters, and its main lobby area. It was a long-needed improvement.