The Rockwell Group has teamed up with TAIT, a global leader in the design and construction of solutions for live events, to create a new initiative to help arts organizations move to outdoor performances.
The group has created OpenStage NYC, which will utilize portable staging for outdoor performances. This comes following Rockwell’s creation of DineOutNYC, which helped to advocate for restaurants to host outdoor dining in public spaces. Both initiatives have been pro-bono by Rockwell.
“As we saw with outdoor dining last year, we need to utilize public space – to really reclaim this space – in a way that contributes to the vitality of the city while helping the creative community that was so devastatingly impacted by the pandemic,” said David Rockwell, set designer for many Broadway and off-Broadway productions, including She Loves Me, Hairspray, Kinky Boots, and The Normal Heart. “We’re hopeful that OpenStage NYC will provide a safe, entertainment destination for New Yorkers and offer creative and economic opportunities for actors, dancers and arts groups. We also hope to raise additional funds to create more stages and with them more opportunity for the arts and entertainment community.”
Using equipment from its inventory, TAIT and New York City’s production team developed a quick-deploying staging system that includes a partial overhead truss, stage lighting and audio equipment. Rockwell’s theater architects created design footprints to accommodate the staging for outdoor production facilities and allow for 50-person audiences socially distanced. The performance stages are expected to utilize streets, plazas and other public spaces as part of the Open Culture program as well as other public performance programs in New York City.
“The last year has had a huge impact on our industry, and we’re thrilled to support the arts in bringing live entertainment back to New Yorkers,” TAIT’s Brian Levine, President, Projects said. “Our expertise lends itself to this quick-to-deploy endeavor and we’re proud to put the inventory to work in this unique way, supporting Rockwell Group’s vision.”
Rockwell and TAIT are also partnering with Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!), BRIC and the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (LPAC) to help arts organizations in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. BAAD!’s programming will kick-off with Boogie Down Dance Series performances in mid-April through May, followed by the Out Like That Festival in June, while BRIC has a number of programs planned in Brooklyn, working with various local arts organizations to bring the stage to as many neighborhoods as possible, beginning this May. LPAC will use the spaces behind theatres for programming and plans to work with other Queens organizations and artists to tour through the borough.
All revenue from the performances will go to support the arts organizations involved.
“Although physical distancing has become the new normal, the power and effect of art has no boundaries,” said Marcus Gualberto, Deputy Director, BAAD! Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance. “The OpenStage NYC initiative will not only allow for the gathering of audiences safely to experience art and culture again in fellowship, but provide a vital platform for visibility to the communities of artists comprised of women, POCs and the LGBTQ+ showcasing the breadth of talent in the Bronx.”
“Open Stage NYC will provide much-needed resources and space for performing artists to get back to work and for communities to reconnect with each other. BRIC is thrilled to be included in this initiative which reinforces the pivotal role that creativity and innovation will play in the recovery,” said Kristina Newman-Scott, President of BRIC. “We look forward to working with Rockwell Group and TAIT as well as other organizations across the borough of Brooklyn to bring this to life.”
“LaGuardia Performing Arts Center (LPAC) is excited to be a part of Open Culture and thanks to our own City Council Member, Jimmy Van Bramer, for writing this bill and helping bring culture to the streets of Queens, and around the City,” said Steven Hitt, Artistic Producing Director, LPAC. “We are so thankful to Rockwell Group and TAIT for developing this idea and including LPAC in the venture.”