Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts today announced Restart Stages, a sweeping initiative that will create 10 outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces.
It’s an outdoor performing arts center, as well as other outdoor civic venues to help kickstart the performing arts sector and contribute to the revival of New York City.
The project is made possible by the generous support of the Lincoln Center Board of Directors and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) as part of the SNF-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative, a collaboration that reimagines and reactivates public space for a new era.
As one of New York City’s leading arts institutions and an anchor of its cultural and public life, Lincoln Center is embarking on this effort as a symbol of its commitment to the city, and to an equitable revitalization which elevates all New Yorkers.
Restart Stages is a major, public-facing component of its broader effort to provide resources in this moment not just to Lincoln Center’s resident companies, but to the performing arts community as a whole — helping get artists back to work and supporting institutions from Brooklyn to the Bronx to engage their communities in the elevating power of the arts.
Designed with expert advice from medical and public health professionals, Restart Stages will create a safe, welcoming, accessible, and dynamic environment for arts and community organizations from across New York City, including Lincoln Center resident companies.
Restart Stages is being developed in coordination with NY State PopsUp, part of Governor Cuomo’s New York Arts Revival, in a partnership to help extend the reach of the initiative far beyond Lincoln Center’s campus.
All offerings will occur outdoors with safety protocols in place for artists, audiences, and staff.
Restart Stages venues will include:
- A cabaret-style stage on Hearst Plaza
- Dedicated family and kids’ areas with arts activities for young people
- Venues for rehearsals, opening up the artistic process to visitors
- Space for public school graduations, recognizing the extraordinary achievements of students under difficult circumstances
- An outdoor reading room, created in partnership with The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
Artistic programming will feature Lincoln Center’s world-class constituent organizations, including outdoor performances of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Summer Evenings concerts, film screenings from Film at Lincoln Center, a concert and cabaret series by Lincoln Center Theater, and dance workshops from New York City Ballet.
This project will help bring back New York’s rich and vital performing arts ecosystem by also reaching far beyond the Lincoln Center campus to include a wide range of cultural and community partners and guest curators, including the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!), Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Harlem Week and the Harlem Arts Alliance, Korean Cultural Center New York, and Weeksville Heritage Center.
As part of its outreach, Lincoln Center is collaborating with organizations from across New York City to use these spaces in their efforts to return to the stage.
Restart Stages will launch on World Health Day, April 7, with a special performance for healthcare workers.
Lincoln Center will also bring its commitment to civic and community service to Restart Stages, supporting communities that have been hardest-hit by the virus and resulting economic catastrophe.
Alongside arts programming, Lincoln Center will offer blood drives in partnership with the New York Blood Center, food distributions in partnership with Food Bank For New York City, and serve as a designated primary election polling place in partnership with the Board of Elections.
“The cultural community has an urgent role to play in the revitalization of New York, to showcase that our city is not just back economically, but spiritually and socially. Which is why we knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that as the city reopened it was our absolute obligation and privilege to be first in line to support our constituents, New Yorkers, and the cultural community,” reflected Henry Timms, President & CEO of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. “We are building this outdoor campus to be ready, so that when the time comes, we do not miss a single day. We will fling our metaphorical doors wide open on day one in celebration of New York and the resolute, remarkable people who make it the best city on earth.”
Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos said, “Reimagined and reactivated public space could be a shot in the arm for civic life in New York and around the world. SNF is proud to support Lincoln Center in realizing a more expansive and inclusive vision for public space, one that sees arts, culture, education, and community engagement as facets of the same civic project.”
Select Restart Stages events will be offered via livestream on Lincoln Center and partner organization digital platforms, increasing access nationally and internationally, well beyond those able to travel to the physical campus.
Since the pandemic began, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has driven efforts to bring the power of the arts to New Yorkers outdoors and digitally—from Love From Lincoln Center concerts for individual essential workers to works of art that elevate the voices and lived experiences of people of color in America, such as Carrie Mae Weems’ installation Resist COVID/Take 6!, Davóne Tines’ Vigil, and digital commissions like The Baptism by Carl Hancock Rux.
Future international collaborations with the Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center in Athens (SNFCC) will bring new approaches to cultural engagement in both cities.
These are just the beginning of a reorientation towards prioritizing openness, access, and inclusive excellence – elevating talent from every corner of the globe and fostering a sense of radical welcome on the campus.
Additional programmatic details will be announced in the coming weeks. Visit RestartStages.org for updates.
Photo credit: llustration by Ceylan A. Sahin Eker