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Gotham’s multiculti arts scene for Japan

Charity concerts and festivals slated

Gotham’s multiculti arts scene is responding swiftly to the crises in Japan with charity concerts and festivals — avant-garde jazz composer John Zorn threw together multiple big-name benefits in a matter of days.

“He emailed me at 10 on Monday, and within 48 hours, we had all the permissions we needed and had sold it out,” said Melissa Smey, director of Miller Theater at Columbia U. Zorn plays Miller on March 27 with Sonic Youth, Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon and indie rock favorite Cibo Matto, who reunited for the show (the band members are Japanese expats).

Smey says the venue’s 688 seats went for between $25 and $100 — there’s a no-comps policy, as well — and that the university donated the space to the show. Of the proceeds 100% goes to the Japan Society’s earthquake relief fund. “It’s the right thing to do,” Smey said. “The news that’s coming out of Japan is horrifying and terrible and that we’re able to do our small part is just the right thing.”

The Japan Society has become the go-to org for Japan relief in New York. Society communications director Shannon Jowett puts the total collected from 5,000 donations at more than $1 million. Zorn is skedded to play there as well, on April 9, with such local luminaries as Philip Glass, Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson. “The crisis is overwhelming, but so is the level of support we’ve seen,” Jowett said.

JapanNYC, a festival planned long before the disaster, has been rededicated to the victims and its homepage filled with links to charity orgs.