In June of 1986 Sun Ra and the Omniverse Jet Set Arkestra performed a free concert in the Naumberg Bandshell in Central Park, and the summer music landscape in New York City changed forever. Today, nearly 30 years later, SummerStage is New York City’s largest free performing arts festival, presenting work in all performing arts disciplines, with a focus on New York’s unique neighborhoods. SummerStage has touched the lives of more than six million fans from around the world.
In celebration of this milestone, City Parks Foundation, the independent nonprofit organization that produces the festival, plans to deepen the impact the festival has in neighborhoods throughout New York City. The 2015 season will feature more shows in Central Park and 15% growth in the number of performances offered in neighborhood parks around the city, creating 6-day "mini-festivals" in 8 parks, featuring music, dance, theater, film, circus and family days. In total this new model will add over 20 performances to the fourteen parks SummerStage presents in, bringing more than 140 unique artists to these stages around the city.
“As an organization we are dedicated to working in traditionally underserved neighborhoods across the city,” said Heather Lubov, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation. “By presenting artists and genres that reflect the cultures and communities in these parks, introducing disciplines such as dance or theater alongside musical performances, and providing all of this fantastic art free of charge, we are building new audiences and fostering a broader interest in the arts here in New York City.”
SummerStage’s artistic mission is to celebrate the cultural legacy and diversity of New York City. In our 30 years, we have presented such legendary performers as Youssou N’Dour, Curtis Mayfield, David Byrne, Max Roach, Patti Smith, Gil Scott Heron, Lou Reed, James Brown, Pete Seeger, Celia Cruz, Miriam Makeba, Jimmy Cliff, and Hugh Masekela, as well as once lesser-known artists, influenced by these icons, who have gone on to become famous in their own right. Vampire Weekend, Alabama Shakes, The Black Keys, The xx, Sarah McLachlan, Thievery Corporation, Jack Johnson, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, and Florence & the Machine are just some of those now-famous performers.
“SummerStage is the festival that truly celebrates New York City,” said Director of Arts & Cultural Programs for City Parks Foundation, Ian Noble. “From the iconic to the avant garde, from opera to hip-hop, film to circus, there is no other festival like it. Not only do we select our artists to reflect the nature of each neighborhood, but each park and audience becomes part of the adventure and charm of each and every show.”
“Capital One Bank is proud to support SummerStage as it showcases the diversity and artistic vitality of New York,” said Michael Slocum, President, Commercial Banking and Northeast Regional President, Capital One. “The arts play an important role in building strong, healthy communities, and we are pleased to help the festival reach new audiences across the city.”
The 2015 30th Anniversary Season will open with a free concert in Central Park featuring the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Other notable talents include: Angelique Kidjo, the iconic African singer-songwriter; London’s soul-funk collective Jungle; Canadian folktronica artist, Caribou; Franco-Norwegian circus duo, Magmanus; and a special celebration of dance and music from the legendary Broadway musical The Wiz. Additionally, Brazil's pioneering mangue-beat superstars, Nação Zumbi, will return to SummerStage 20 years after their historic and epic U.S. debut. A number of parks will welcome neighborhood heroes to their stages, like Staten Islander Mack Wilds, and a screening of Time is Illmatic, the documentary that follows Queensbridge prodigal son Nas, as his life leads up to his critically-acclaimed, seminal album, Illmatic. The Oliver Lake Big Band will premier a commissioned piece during the expanded Charlie Parker Jazz Festival weekend, and a 30th Anniversary DJ commission with Quantic, Gilles Peterson, and Afrika Bambaataa, will take audiences through the decades of SummerStage.
For the most up-to-date scheduling and line-up for all SummerStageprogramming, follow SummerStage via the below links and visit www.SummerStage.org for festival information.