Janette Sadik-Khan, a former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and now transportation principal at Bloomberg Associates, the pro bono consulting arm of Bloomberg Philanthropies, which advises mayors around the world. “Streets make up more than 80 percent of a city’s public space, so they’re really the front yards for millions of Americans.”

Three cities began or completed installations in late 2020: Kansas City, Mo; Saginaw, Mich.; and Norfolk, Va. The remaining 13 are expected to finish their projects this year. Through mid-May, the cities have transformed a combined 26,000 square feet of streetscape with artwork and engaged more than 1,500 residents and 72 artists in the design and installation process.

minority artists who will design vinyl wraps for 25 utility boxes throughout downtown. Troy, N.Y. intends to beautify an underpass.

“So many U.S. cities have underpasses that, whatever the original intent, turned into real barriers, and divided neighborhoods in ways that often aren’t very positive,” Ms. Levin said, expressing hope that the art projects “can create a gateway instead of an impediment.”

Teal Thibaud, director of the Glass House Collective, a nonprofit that works in an underserved neighborhood in East Chattanooga, Tenn., said even small improvements could help spawn others, especially in an area that had received limited infrastructure investment in recent years.

The Bloomberg-funded mural, completed in April, helped beautify the area, and several grants from local foundations, which increased the overall project budget to $60,000, enhanced the area in other ways.

A new street park next to the asphalt mural that created a safe gathering space, fence art to slow traffic near the elementary school, and painted stencils on sidewalks to encourage school children and other residents to follow the safest local routes were among the projects, said Ms. Thibaud. “We’re starting to see it all work together.”

Kansas City, Mo., redesigned a busy, dangerous four-way intersection where cars rarely stopped for pedestrians, said DuRon Netsell, founder and principal of Street Smarts Design + Build, an urban design firm that focuses on walkable communities. “People were just flying through the intersection, significantly over the speed limit.”

Midtown KC Now, a nonprofit local community improvement organization.

Soon after installation, foot traffic increased, overall vehicle speeds declined by 45 percent, street crossing times for pedestrians were cut in half, noise level dropped by about 10 decibels and the share of pedestrians who said they felt safe crossing the intersection increased to 63 percent from 23, Mr. Netsell said.

Bloomberg Philanthropies and Bloomberg Associates issued the Asphalt Art Guide, a free manual with tips, checklists, and case studies of successful projects around the world to encourage more cities to develop visual art projects. In March, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced a second round of up to 20 grants, open to all U.S. cities.

“Safety doesn’t have to be mundane and boring,” Mr. Netsell said. “We’ve proven that we can make our intersections and streets much safer, but we can also make them really fun and vibrant. It’s something that all local communities can do.”

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Everything Was Canceled in 2020. What About 2021?

Early last year, as international lockdowns upended daily life, they took with them, one by one, many of the major cultural and sporting events that dot the calendar each year. The N.B.A. suspended its season, the French Open was postponed for several months and the Tokyo Olympics were delayed a year. The future of the Glastonbury Festival and the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival were in doubt. It was a bleak time.

Recently, as conditions in many places around the world have slowly begun to improve, and as countries have begun mass vaccination campaigns, some events and cultural staples have made plans to return, albeit with modifications. While few events, if any, have plans to go ahead free of restrictions this year, some are taking a hybrid approach. Others remain postponed or canceled.

Here’s the status of some of the major events around the world.

scheduled to begin on July 23 with an opening ceremony. The bulk of the athletic events will begin the next day. The first round of Wimbledon begins on June 28 and will run through mid-July. Officials said they were working toward a spectator capacity of at least 25 percent.

scheduled for Oct. 11, and the 50th New York City Marathon is set for Nov. 7.

The 105th Indianapolis 500 will go on as planned on May 30. Officials will allow about 135,000 spectators in — 40 percent of the venue’s capacity. The event was organized with state and local health officials and was approved by the Marion County Public Health Department, race officials said.

The French Open, one of the premier tennis competitions, has been postponed one week to a new start date of May 24. The decision was made in agreement with the authorities in France and the governing bodies of international tennis, said officials, who want the tournament played in front of the largest possible number of fans.

is canceled again this year.

it would not take place this summer.

The Essence Festival of Culture, which usually draws more than a half million people to New Orleans over the Fourth of July weekend every year, will host a hybrid experience this year over two weekends: June 25-27 and July 2-4.

Headliners like Billie Eilish, Post Malone and ASAP Rocky will take the stage at the Governors Ball Music Festival, which is scheduled for Sept. 24-26 at Citi Field in Queens. Organizers say the event will return to its typical June dates in 2022.

Burning Man, the annual countercultural arts event that typically draws tens of thousands of people to Black Rock Desert in Nevada, has been canceled again this year because of the pandemic. It will return in 2022, organizers said.

After being canceled last year, the Austin City Limits Music Festival, the event in the capital of Texas, is scheduled to return to Zilker Park on Oct. 1-3 and Oct. 8-10.

on Sept. 13. A second event is scheduled for May 2022.

NYC Pride 2021 will move forward in June with virtual and in-person events. The Pride March, which was canceled last year, will be virtual this time. (San Francisco Pride, also in June, is planning similar adjustments, while Atlanta Pride is planning to hold an in-person event in October.)

from Aug. 10. In order to keep concertgoers safe, organizers said events will not have intermissions and its venue will have a limited number of available seats. Similarly, the Salzburg Festival in Austria kicks off in mid July with modifications.

The Edinburgh International Festival, a showcase for world theater, dance and music in the Scottish city since 1947, will run Aug. 7-29. Performances will take place in temporary outdoor pavilions with covered stages and socially distanced seating.

E3, one of the video game industry’s most popular conventions where developers showcase the latest news and games, will be virtual this year from June 12-15.

The New York International Auto Show, which showcases the newest and latest automobiles from dozens of brands, will run Aug. 20-29. The event last year was postponed and eventually canceled because of the pandemic.

The Cannes Film Festival in the South of France, one of the movie industry’s most revered and celebrated events, has been postponed to July 6-17 from mid-May. The 2021 edition of the event, which was canceled last year, is currently scheduled to be in person.

After more than a year of no theater performances, Broadway shows will start selling tickets for full-capacity shows with some performances starting on Sept. 14. (Some West End shows will resume as early as May 17.)

After being virtual last year, New York Comic-Con will return with a physical event Oct. 7-10 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The convention will run at reduced capacity to ensure social distancing, organizers said. This year’s Comic-Con International event, which is normally held in July in San Diego, has been postponed until summer 2022. There are plans for a smaller event called Comic-Con Special Edition however, that will be held in person in November.

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A New York Intellectual Bastion Finds a New Home

For a certain kind of intellectually inclined New Yorker, the weekly Friday lunch of the New York Institute for the Humanities has long been a coveted invitation. Held for more than four decades in a succession of sometimes cramped rooms at New York University, it’s the kind of gathering where you suddenly realize that the seriously dressed-down person who had just abruptly put down a paper plate of deli sandwiches to pose a sharp question about a talk on Nietzsche’s concept of anti-education or the legacy of the documentary “Paris Is Burning” is actually an eminent philosopher, a prizewinning novelist, or maybe a downtown musician or painter.

Now, after a period of pandemic-related uncertainty, the institute is leaving its longtime home at the university and moving uptown. Starting June 1, it will be based at the New York Public Library, which, after the pandemic lifts, will host the institute’s weekly gatherings in its flagship 42nd Street building while partnering on public events through its Center for Research in the Humanities.

Eric Banks, the institute’s director since 2013, said the move came after N.Y.U. informed him last fall that, as part of pandemic-related cuts, it would be discontinuing its support for the institution, which had a $200,000 annual budget. Under the new arrangement, the bulk of the institute’s budget will be paid for by its own fund-raising, including what Banks said was “substantial initial support” from some of the group’s fellows.

William Kelly, the library’s director of research libraries, said in a statement that the partnership was important as the city faces what is likely to be “a long and difficult recovery” from the pandemic.

two-day symposium in 2016 on Black Lives Matter; a 2018 celebration of the jazz experimentalist Cecil Taylor; and an eclectic exploration of solitary confinement in 2012 that brought criminal justice reformers together with artists and philosophers.

As the city’s intellectual scene has evolved, the institute may no longer draw the kind of gossipy coverage that followed some of its internal blowups over the years. But Banks said the partnership with the library would help shore up and even expand its place in New York’s “intellectual infrastructure.”

“It’s not just a star-studded group,” he said. “The point is really to foster connections and conversations that are really hard to make happen under other circumstances.”

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National Endowment for the Humanities Announces New Grants

The New York Botanical Garden, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas, are among 225 beneficiaries of new grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities that were announced on Wednesday.

The grants, which total $24 million, will support projects at museums, libraries, universities and historic sites in 45 states, as well as in Washington and Puerto Rico. They will enable the excavation of a newly discovered ancient Egyptian brewery by researchers from New York University, the implementation of a traveling exhibition honoring Emmett Till’s legacy at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, and research for a biography of the congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis by David Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University.

Adam Wolfson, the endowment’s acting chairman, said in a statement that the new projects “embody excellence, intellectual rigor and a dedication to the pursuit of knowledge, even as our nation and the humanities community continue to face the challenges of the pandemic.”

As part of a new grant program in archaeology and ethnography, seven of the awards will support empirical field research, including the excavation of the ancient city of Teotihuacan in central Mexico and the investigation of settlement and migration patterns on the Micronesian islands of Pohnpei and Kosrae.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art will receive a grant to produce an exhibition, “Dining With the Sultan,” that features art depicting Islamic courtly dining culture and culinary traditions from the eighth through the 19th centuries. And at California State University’s Fullerton campus, a team will use Bob Damron’s Address Books, a prominent travel directory used by L.G.B.T.Q. Americans in the late 20th century, to create interactive maps and visualizations.

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Music Venues’ Quest for Billions in Federal Aid Is Halted by Glitch

As the government prepared on Thursday to start taking applications for a $16 billion relief fund for music clubs, theaters and other live event businesses, thousands of desperate applicants waited eagerly to submit their paperwork right at noon, when the system was scheduled to open.

And then they waited. And waited. Nearly four hours later, the system was still not working at all, sending applicants into spasms of anxiety.

“This is an absolute disaster,” Eric Sosa, the owner of C’mon Everybody, a club in Brooklyn, tweeted at the agency. In social media forums and Zoom calls, frustrated applicants banded together to vent and share their anger.

The Small Business Administration, which runs the initiative, the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program, attributed the problems to “a technical issue” that it said it was working to address.

the same thing happened again, weeks later, when a new round of funding became available.

Applicants for the grant program were incredulous that the agency was not better prepared — especially because the funds are to be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Those who get their applications in early have the best chance of getting aid before the money runs out.

“It pits venues against each other because we’re all mad-dashing for this,” Mr. Sosa said in an interview. “And it shouldn’t be that way. We’re all a community.”

For businesses like Crowbar, a music club in Tampa, Fla., getting a grant is a matter of survival. Tom DeGeorge, Crowbar’s primary owner, took out more than $200,000 in personal loans to keep the business afloat after it shut down last year, including one using its liquor license as collateral.

More than a year later, the club has reopened with a smattering of events at reduced capacities, but the business still operates in the red, Mr. DeGeorge said in an interview.

months of lobbying by an ad hoc coalition of music venues and other groups that warned of the loss of an entire sector of the arts economy.

For music venues in particular, the last year has been a scramble to remain afloat, with the proprietors of local clubs running crowdfunding campaigns, selling T-shirts and racking their brains for any creative way to raise funds. For the holidays, the Subterranean club in Chicago, for example, agreed to place the names of patrons on its marquee for donations of $250 or more.

“It’s been the busiest year,” Robert Gomez, the primary owner of Subterranean, said in an interview. “But it’s all been about, ‘Where am I going to get funding from?’”

sent out an alert warning of “serious concerns” with the program’s waste and fraud controls. The Small Business Administration’s current audit plan “exposes billions of dollars to potential misuse of funds,” the inspector general wrote in a report.

Successful applicants will receive a grant equal to 45 percent of their gross earned revenue from 2019, up to $10 million. Those who lost 90 percent of their revenue (compared to the prior year) after the coronavirus pandemic took hold will have a 14-day priority window for receiving the money, followed by another 14-day period for those who lost 70 percent or more. If any funds remain after that, they will then go to applicants who had a 25 percent sales loss in at least one quarter of 2020. Venues owned by large corporations, like Live Nation or AEG, are not eligible.

The application process is extensive, with detailed questions about venues’ budgets, staff and equipment.

“They want to make sure you’re not just setting up a piano in the corner of an Italian restaurant and calling yourself a music venue,” said Blayne Tucker, a lawyer for several music spaces in Texas.

many dry months before touring and live events return at anything like prepandemic levels.

The grant program also offers help for Broadway theaters, performing arts centers and even zoos, which share many of the same economic struggles.

The Pablo Center at the Confluence, in Eau Claire, Wis., for example, was able to raise about $1 million from donations and grants during the pandemic, yet is still $1.2 million short on its annual fixed operating expenses, said Jason Jon Anderson, its executive director.

“By the time we open again, October 2021 at the earliest, we will have been shuttered longer than we had been open,” he added. (The center opened in 2018, at a cost of $60 million.)

The thousands of small clubs that dot the national concert map lack access to major donors and, in many cases, have been surviving on fumes for months.

Stephen Chilton, the owner of the 300-capacity Rebel Lounge in Phoenix, said he had taken out “a few hundred thousand” in loans to keep the club afloat. In October, it reopened with a pop-up coffee shop inside, and the club hosts some events, like trivia contests and open mic shows.

“We’re losing a lot less than we were losing when we were completely closed,” Mr. Chilton said, “but it’s not making up for the lost revenue from doing events.”

The Rebel Lounge hopes that a grant will help it survive until it can bring back a full complement of concerts. And if its application is not accepted?

“There is no Plan B,” Mr. Chilton said.

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16 Global Design Concepts for an Unpredictable Future

Julie LaskyLila Allen and

The challenges of the past year gave designers every reason to recede into the shadows, but creativity won’t be denied.

If anything, they are finding inspiration in global upheaval. From hundreds of possibilities, here are just a few examples we selected of projects begun or realized despite closed borders, disrupted supply chains and economic collapse.

Designers are recycling the rubble from Mexico City’s streets, for example, creating play spaces so Beirut’s children can find comfort in a city ripped apart by an explosion and proposing textiles as a building material to replace environmentally cruel concrete. More than just surmounting challenges, many are looking ahead to a greener, healthier and more equitable world.

Dadaï, a Thai, Vietnamese and dim sum restaurant that opened in August in the Shibuya district of Tokyo, takes its inspiration from the avant-garde Dada art movement — or at least a 21st-century Japanese interpretation of it.

A chevron, or zigzag, pattern covers the walls, floor and ceiling. Arched bays are filled with classical-style nude statues that look as if they’ve been ensnared in webs of washi tape. And at the center of the dining room, angled vertiginously over the bar, is a giant photographic portrait of a woman interrupted by collaged smears of color.

Located in the new, fashion-centric Miyashita Park retail development, the restaurant’s design, by Yasumichi Morita of the aptly named Tokyo studio Glamorous, makes no obvious concessions to a post-pandemic world. (Japan’s self-described “state of emergency” ended on March 21.)

glamorous.co.jp

Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia in Barcelona designs a self-sufficient structure aimed at reducing the effects of climate change. But the class of 2019-2020 chose to take on another global crisis by imagining an architectural response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We had two crises at the same time,” said Vicente Guallart, a director of the master’s program in advanced ecological buildings and biocities. “And the question was what we can learn about that.”

Over five months and under strict quarantine conditions, Mr. Guallart and his co-director Daniel Ibáñez led the group of 17 students in constructing an ecological wood cabin, known as the Voxel, a structure designed with everything one might need to quarantine for 14 days. The design was executed with just 40 pine trees, all harvested less than a mile from the construction site in Barcelona’s Collserola Natural Park. It also includes solar panels, independent battery storage and a rainwater collection and gray-water recycling system.

The roughly 130-square-foot cabin, which rises almost 14 feet, now stands nearly camouflaged among the same pines used to construct it. valldaura.net

17th-century home near Montpellier in southern France with a newly frescoed ceiling in his 250-square-foot bedroom.

The fresco’s single-named artist, Rochegaussen, had worked with Mr. Yovanovitch previously on a restaurant interior in London (he painted cutlery and cookware on a field of cobalt over the chef’s table). Given carte blanche for the bedroom, Rochegaussen arranged woodland animals in his signature energetic line — a motif Mr. Yovanovitch described as “a joyful Mediterranean dance.” The creatures were inspired by fauna from a Provençal forest and include boar, snakes and owls. The designer said that a refreshed environment helped him stay inspired, especially in a period of isolation. And, he added, “there’s something so special about looking up from bed and seeing a painting.” pierreyovanovitch.com, rochegaussen.com

branch institution in Tianjin welcomed its inaugural class of graduate students to a campus designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Located about an hour outside of Beijing, the new 350,000-square-foot complex began construction in 2017 and features performance halls, rehearsal rooms and teaching studios, connected by a ground-level lobby that is open to the public. Expansive windows offer visitors a view into the educational and creative processes.

In China, “there’s still a sense of fascination and curiosity with Western music,” said Charles Renfro, the partner in charge of the project, noting that the building was designed to be a teaching aid for both students and the community.

As the building neared completion in early 2020, Mr. Renfro said he spent many evenings viewing video walk-throughs, trusting that the firm’s partners in China were meeting the precise specifications.

tianjinjuilliard.edu.cn


HMC Architects, and his colleagues recently completed a speculative design for a mixed-used project on the Lekki peninsula near Lagos, Nigeria. This relatively sparsely populated area in a region of more than 21 million people is being readied to accommodate millions more in the coming years.

Approached by an environmentally minded local developer who is seeking to acquire 400 acres on the peninsula, the architects envisioned a “forest city” with abundant greenery cleansing the air and a narrow street grid that allows breezes to slip past and passively cool buildings. Rain in the monsoon season would fill basins in parks and gardens. Shaded houses would have communal courtyards and reclaim the climate-responsive earthen materials and decorative patterns of precolonial people like the Yoruba.

hmcarchitects.com

an estimated 6,000 buildings, including more than 150 schools. This left Etienne Bastormagi, Sandra Richani and Nada Borgi, local architects and urban planners, wondering how they could help their city as children prepare to return to class.

Their Let’s Play initiative, will rebuild playgrounds at six schools affected by the explosion, with help from other architects and volunteers. Construction on the first, at École Secondaire des Filles de la Charité school in the Achrafieh district, just began.

The public-private initiative also reconsiders what a playground can be, incorporating materials, large-scale objects and landscapes that can be experienced or manipulated in more than one way. Rather than jungle gyms, swing sets or slides, the spaces will have colorful platforms, canopies and pathways that encourage directionless play. Such ambiguities are meant to promote experimentation and social interaction outside of the classroom.

The team also hopes that these new ways to play will help children confront the traumas of 2020, blast and coronavirus pandemic alike, by allowing them to feel safe again in their city. “The therapy effect is not just for the kids,” Mr. Bastormagi added. “I think it starts with us.” instagram.com/lets_play_initiative

Safdie Architects, the hospital opened in January with its more than half a million square feet (and more to come) oriented toward courtyards, gardens and a bucolic lake.

According to Sean Scensor, the project’s lead architect, greenery even determines how visitors move through the building: The main pedestrian corridor parallels a bamboo garden, and five wings stretch perpendicularly from this spine to carve out lush courtyards that open onto a lake. A “healing garden” accessible from the oncology department offers sanctuary in a grove of Indian lilac, red and white frangipani trees and scarlet-blossomed royal poinciana.

Visitors also can steal away to a glass-walled chapel tucked into a bamboo enclosure. The goal, Mr. Scensor said, was to avoid “institutional anonymity” in favor of a “new kind of hospital: highly efficient but inherently humane.” chsm.com


Yinka Ilori, a British-Nigerian artist, has spent the last year designing and installing affirmation-laced murals throughout the city — like one in which bubblegum-pink letters announce “Love always wins” against a backdrop suggestive of ice cream cones.

Mr. Ilori recently extended this “theme of positivity,” as he has called it, to table linens, pillows, rugs and socks sold through his website and a few retailers. The latest designs include bone china mugs and plates emblazoned with his chirpy slogans. This venture compensates for “a loss of projects during the pandemic,” he said. And then some. The line has proved so successful that he has hired additional staff members to manage it into a post-Covid future. Mug 45 pounds, or about $62; plate £70, or about $97. yinkailori.com

Shark Tank”) with his first commercial product: a lamp called Lumio that opens like a book. In October, Mr. Gunawan introduced on Kickstarter a second object that similarly trades in the thrill of the unexpected. Teno is a bowl-shaped sculpture, five inches in diameter, with a jagged golden scar — a reference to the Japanese art of repair called kintsugi. Crack open the bowl, and light pours out (it can be increased or dimmed with a tap). Open the sculpture fully, and it becomes a portable Bluetooth speaker.

hellolumio.com/collections/teno

MT Objects is a ceramics studio that turns out singular pieces referencing local craft traditions and the architectural splendor and battered infrastructure of its home base, Mexico City, and beyond. Thanks to a masked and socially distant pair of artisans employed by the studio, operations have continued throughout the pandemic, said Tony Moxham, a co-founder with Mauricio Paniagua.

In one recent series, slip-cast vessels were drizzled with black glaze in imitation of the tar used by the Totonac people who occupied what is now the state of Veracruz to represent “the moisture, fertility and darkness of the underworld,” Mr. Moxham said. Another collection, described as “brutalist,” is cast from sidewalk rubble and streaked with traditional colonial lead-based glazes from the western state of Michoacán.

“We wanted to create something that was very different from what everyone else was doing,” Mr. Moxham said. “And in Mexico City, almost any sidewalk you walk down has bits of broken concrete.” Prices range from $1,000 to $5,000 per piece. ceramicalamejor.mx/mt-objects

Aïssa Dione’s 2020 collection of textiles carries the vibrant colors and traditional designs of Senegalese handweaving, though reimagined in various sizes and with fibers like raffia, cotton and viscose. The fabrics are produced in Ms. Dione’s workshop in Rufisque, a town outside of Dakar, where she employs nearly 100 Senegalese weavers who work on looms. They are then sold to luxury interior design companies to cover sofas, armchairs and windows in homes around the world.

Ms. Dione’s 2020 collection also continues the textile designer’s nearly 30-year commitment to revitalize the craft and her continued focus on cultivating raw materials from Senegal, rather than importing them. Working locally and small helped her during a year when the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the global supply chain.

It also gave Ms. Dione a chance to develop a client database, organize photos of past work and shoot a film that captures her weavers’ process. “We had time to sit down and develop things we had no time to do,” she said. aissadionetissus.com

DeMuro Das, an interior design studio near New Delhi, unusual materials are a calling card. It has topped a coffee table in unakite, a speckled, metamorphic rock, and lined a cabinet in koto, a West African hardwood. More recently, the founders, Brian DeMuro and Puru Das, tried wrapping a low cabinet with the parchmentlike substance Carta, lending the piece a pretty, mottled surface, like asphalt after a rainstorm.

demurodas.com


Pirjo Haikola, a designer in Melbourne, has 3-D-printed coral reefs that are on view at the art and design triennial at the National Gallery of Victoria.

ngv.vic.gov.au

berlinerfestspiele.de

Anna Aagaard Jensen, a Danish artist, and a wig-like lamp by Laurids Gallée, an Austrian-born designer. The lamp is part of a lighting collection, curated by the Brussels dealer Victor Hunt, titled, appropriately enough, “The Lights at the End of the Tunnel.” May 28 to 30. collectible.design

Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm and the curator of a show about the banquet that revels in bespoke table settings, secret menus, eye-popping floral arrangements and glossy evening wear. Timed to open with the — ultimately canceled — 2020 event, it is fully installed and ready for visitors whenever entry is deemed safe.

The show reveals the banquet as a stage for perfectionism — a chance to source the ultimate raspberry for a dessert or prepare the most challenging potato dish.

But it also highlights modest gestures, like the time in 2018 when Victoria, the Crown Princess of Sweden, recycled the Nina Ricci gown her mother, Queen Silvia, wore to the event in 1995.

“She looked fantastic in it,” Ms. Ahlvik said, though the princess is taller than her mother. “We were all wondering how she did it.” nobelprize.org

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The Shed Plans to Reopen for Covid-Tested Audiences

The New York City arts scene is about to pass another milestone on the road to reopening: The Shed, a large performing arts venue in Hudson Yards, said Wednesday that it would hold a series of indoor performances next month for limited audiences in which everyone has either been tested for the coronavirus or vaccinated against it.

The Shed said it would present four events next month: concerts by the cellist and vocalist Kelsey Lu, the soprano Renée Fleming and a string ensemble from the New York Philharmonic, and a comedy set by Michelle Wolf.

Each of the performances will be open to up to 150 people, all masked, in a space that can seat 1,280. The Shed said it would require patrons to present confirmation of a recent negative coronavirus test, or confirmation of full vaccination; requiring testing allows the Shed admit the largest number of audience members allowed under state protocols.

“In these first steps, there’s limited capacity, but you have to start somewhere,” said the Shed’s artistic director, Alex Poots. “Those first steps are really important for us, for our audiences and for our artists — just the idea that we might return to something joyful.”

announcement by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that arts and entertainment organizations could begin presenting indoor work for limited-capacity audiences. On Tuesday, the commercial producer Daryl Roth said she would present “Blindness,” an audio adaptation of the José Saramago novel, to audiences of up to 50 at her Union Square theater, and the Park Avenue Armory said it would present a series of music, dance, and movement works, starting with a piece by Bill T. Jones for an audience of 100. The Armory said it would require ticket buyers to take an on-site rapid coronavirus test, for free, before entering.

Poots said the Shed would start with music and comedy because “both have universal appeal, and they also align well with the guidelines that have emerged.”

“It gets far more complex when you get into more intricate art forms that require a lot of costume changes or close-up rehearsal,” he said. The productions are small, but not tiny; Lu will be accompanied by 14 musicians, and the Philharmonic ensemble will include 20 players. None of the performances will have intermissions.

The first performer, Lu, is planning to present an opera called “This is a Test.”

“I have been waiting for this day — it’s been too long,” Lu said. “There’s nothing like that exchange between audience and performer. It’s left a void for me and so many of us.”

The Shed, like many arts institutions, canceled programs starting March 12 of last year. Since then, it has presented a visual art exhibition, of work by Howardena Pindell; a filmed rendition of a play, “November” by Claudia Rankine; and an online digital works series. But these April events will be the first live performances with paying audiences. The Shed has some considerable architectural advantages under the circumstances — it is a new building with a state-of-the-art HVAC system capable of fully refreshing the breathable indoor air every 30 minutes, and its 18,000-square-foot main performance space opens directly to the outside.

hosting the Frieze New York art fair for the first time, and in June, hosting Open Call, a program for early career artists, as well as programs in collaboration with the Tribeca Film Festival. Poots said that he hopes that by fall, “things will be getting a lot easier, in terms of capacities and regulations.”

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