One to One – Erika Elliott: City Parks Foundation’s SummerStage


♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>>HELLO, I’M SHERYL McCARTHY. OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK. WELCOME TO “ONE TO ONE.” NEW YORK IS UNDOUBTEDLY A MECCA FOR THE ARTS. THOUGH MORE AND MORE IT’S ARTS FOR THE WEALTHY. THOSE WHO CAN AFFORD TO SPEND $150 FOR THE OPERA, $200 FOR A CONCERT IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, OR GOD KNOWS HOW MUCH FOR TICKETS TO THE HOT NEW MUSICAL HAMILTON. FOR THE REST OF US, THERE’S SUMMERSTAGE, WHICH EACH SUMMER BRINGS A BUMPER CROP OF WORLD CLASS ENTERTAINMENT TO 15 PARKS THROUGHOUT THE FIVE BOROUGHS, ALL FOR FREE. I’M DELIGHTED TO WELCOME ERIKA ELLIOTT, EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE CITY PARKS FOUNDATION’S SUMMERSTAGE PROGRAM. TO TELL US ABOUT THE WORKINGS OF THE PROGRAM THAT SPONSORS MORE THAN 100 FREE EVENTS WITH MORE THAN 300 ARTISTS, INCLUDING HOW SHE CHOOSES THEM AND WHO PAYS FOR THEM. CLEARLY, HERS IS A LABOR OF LOVE FOR THE ARTS AND THE CITY. WELCOME. >>THANKS. GREAT TO BE HERE. >>SUMMERSTAGE IS 31 YEARS OLD. >>IT IS. >>TELL US — TELL ME ABOUT HOW IT GOT STARTED AND HOW IT HAS EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS? >>IN THE BEGINNING, IT WAS STARTED AS A WAY TO SORT OF ADDRESS PUBLIC PERCEPTION AND USE OF CENTRAL PARK. AT THE TIME, CENTRAL PARK WAS NOT PARTICULARLY SAFE OR WELL CARED FOR, WITH ALL THE ECONOMIC CRISIS THAT WAS GOING ON IN THE ’80s. SO THE PARKS DEPARTMENT AND OUR EARLY ARTISTIC DIRECTOR THOUGHT IF WE BROUGHT ARTS INTO THE SPACE, IT’S A WAY TO GET PEOPLE INTO THE PARK TO PERCEIVE THE SPACE DIFFERENTLY, TO REIGNITE THE ENERGY AROUND THE SPACE. THAT’S SORT OF THE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS OF THE IDEA. >>STARTED OUT JUST IN CENTRAL PARK? >>IT DID. >>AND IT’S SPONSORED, RUN BY THE CITY PARKS FOUNDATION? >>IT IS. >>WHAT IS THAT? >>IT’S AN INDEPENDENT NONPROFIT. THEY DO ALL KINDS OF WORK AROUND PARKS, FROM ADVOCACY TO EDUCATION, SPORTS, AND ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT. SO THAT’S THE OVERARCHING NONPROFIT THAT PRODUCES SUMMERSTAGE AS WELL AS A HOST OF OTHER THINGS. >>I WAS TELLING YOU THAT LAST NIGHT, I ATTEMPTED — AFTER 40 YEARS IN THE CITY, I ATTEMPTED TO ATTEND MY FIRST SUMMERSTAGE EVENT, BUT THE LINE WAS SO LONG, I COULDN’T GET IN. SO BASICALLY, HOW ALL THE VENUES WORK IS PEOPLE JUST SHOW UP? FIRST COME FIRST SERVE. MIGHT HAVE TO STAND IN LINE FOR A WHILE. DON’T NEED TICKETS? >>NO TICKETS. >>OKAY. >>THE THING IS TO KNOW, IN CENTRAL PARK, THERE IS A FINITE CAPACITY OF 5,000. AS YOU SAW LAST NIGHT, ON A VERY, VERY POPULAR SHOW, THERE IS A LINE. WE DO SOMETIMES REACH CAPACITY. BUT IN THE OTHER LOCATIONS ACROSS THE CITY, THERE’S NOT SO HARD CAPACITY BECAUSE BECAUSE THERE’S NO FENCING. WE’RE JUST A POP-UP FESTIVAL, WE BRING STAGING OR EXISTING STAGING. SO NO LINES OUTSIDE OF CENTRAL PARK, AND — >>AND PEOPLE BRING BLANKETS AND CHAIRS.>>COME AS YOU ARE. OUTSIDE OF CENTRAL PARK, A LOT MORE FLEXIBILITY BECAUSE THEY’RE A LITTLE MORE OPEN SPACE WHERE WE HAVE A VERY SPECIFIC, AGAIN, FINITE SPACE WITHIN CENTRAL PARK. >>TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE VENUES. >>YEAH, THIS WEEK, WE WERE IN BROWNSVILLE IN A PARK CALLED BETSY HEAD. IT’S A BIG BALL FIELD. IF WE’RE NOT THERE, IT’S USED THE WAY MANY FIELDS ARE, FOR PROBABLY SPORTS AND RECREATION, AND WE BRING IN A BIG MOBILE STAGE AND SET UP FOR A WEEK. SO IN THIS PAST WEEK, WE HAD PUBLIC ENEMY AND ANGIE STONE AND A WHOLE BARBECUE EVENT FROM COMMUNITY HIP-HOP GROUP, AND THEN SPOKEN WORD AND FAMILY AND DANCE. SO ESSENTIALLY EACH ONE OF THE VENUES OUTSIDE OF CENTRAL PARK IS A WEEK LONG RUN. USUALLY MULTI-DISCIPLINARY AND WE HAVE A COMBINATION OF MUSIC, DANCE, THEATER, SPOKEN WORD, FILM, FAMILY. AND EVERYTHING IS FREE. >>ONE OF THE REASONS I NEVER TRIED TO GO TO SUMMERSTAGE UNTIL YESTERDAY WAS THAT I ALWAYS THOUGHT OF IT OVER THE YEARS AS THIS KIND OF HOSTING KIND OF STRANGE EVENTS, KIND OF STRANGE GROUPS AND THEY WERE MAYBE A LOT OF ROCK GROUPS THAT APPEAL TO YOUNG WHITE KIDS AND GROUPS I WOULD NEVER HAVE HEARD OF. THAT’S ONE REASON I DIDN’T PURSUE IT. IF THAT EVER WAS THE CASE, IT PROBABLY HAS CHANGED. >>I WOULD SAY THAT PROBABLY ISN’T OUR HISTORY. I THINK OUR HISTORY IS REALLY EMBEDDED IN WORLD MUSIC AND CROSS CULTURAL COLLABORATIONS. I THINK THAT’S PRIMARILY BEEN THE LEGACY. EVEN IN THE EARLY DAYS. WE DID LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO AND SUNRA ARKESTRA. SO THE PERCEPTION THAT IT MAY BE SOMETHING YOU DON’T KNOW IS PROBABLY TRUE FOR A LOT OF NEW YORKERS. ALTHOUGH I THINK THE CHALLENGE, AND AGAIN, THE BLESSING, IS THAT WE REALLY DO TRY TO HAVE SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. SO IN DOING THAT, YOU KNOW, IF YOU HAVE ONE OF THE MOST ICONIC AFRICAN ARTISTS, LET’S SAY, OR SOME SUPERSTAR FROM LATIN AMERICA, THE AVERAGE NEW YORKER WHO IS NOT PART OF THE COMMUNITY OR ISN’T LISTENING TO THOSE TYPES OF MUSIC MIGHT NOT KNOW THOSE ARTISTS. >>PROBABLY NOT IN STATEN ISLAND. MORE LIKELY IN THE BRONX?>>OR IN CENTRAL PARK. REGIONALLY, WHEN I MADE THAT STATEMENT, THAT’S REALLY ABOUT CENTRAL PARK WHERE WE DO ON ANY GIVEN DAY, WE’LL DO METROPOLITAN OPERA ONE NIGHT AND LATIN ROCK THE NEXT AND PERHAPS HIP-HOP THE NEXT. LAST WEEK, WE HAD A YIDDISH FILM FESTIVAL. IT’S ALL OVER THE PLACE, AGAIN, WITH THE NOTION WE WANT TO HAVE SOMETHING FOR ALL NEW YORKERS. TO DO THAT, YOU REALLY HAVE TO APPEAL TO COMMUNITIES AND BRING IN MUSICIANS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO THOSE COMMUNITIES. >>SO YOU REALLY DO TRY TO TAILOR THE ENTERTAINMENT TO THE DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES, DIFFERENT BOROUGHS. >>YES, SO IN CENTRAL PARK, IT’S A LITTLE WIDER SCOPE BECAUSE IT’S THE HEART OF NEW YORK. IT’S CENTRAL PARK, SO WE TRY TO BE REALLY DIVERSE AND INCLUSIVE THERE. AROUND THE FIVE BOROUGHS, THE NOTION, YES, IS ABSOLUTELY THAT THOSE SHOWS COULD BE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE COMMUNITIES. THERE SHOULD BE SOME SORT OF NATURAL TIE, WHETHER THE MUSICIANS THEMSELVES ARE FROM THE NEIGHBORHOODS OR THE DANCE COMPANY OR THE FILM HAS SOME CONNECTION, OR THAT THE WORK THEY’RE PRESENTING, YOU KNOW, OR THE GENRE THEY’RE PERFORMING HAS SOME SORT OF INHERENT CONNECTION TO WHATEVER THE BOROUGH IS. >>SOMETIMES YOU HAVE A THEME FOR THE SEASON. THIS SUMMER’S THEME IS JAZZ. >>YES. I’M VERY PROUD OF THAT. I HAVE BEEN THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR FOR OVER A DECADE. IN THE LAST THREE OR FOUR YEARS, WE SORT OF HONED IN ON THE NOTION THAT THERE’S A LOT GOING ON IN NEW YORK. THERE’S A LOT OF OTHER FESTIVALS, AND WHAT WE THINK MAKES SUMMERSTAGE UNIQUE IS THAT WE’RE DISTINCTLY NEW YORK, AND WE’RE IN NEIGHBORHOOD PARKS AROUND THE CITY. IN LOCATIONS THAT MOST OTHER FESTIVALS HAVE ONE CENTRAL PLACE, AND THAT’S IT. BY BEING REALLY REGIONAL AND HYPERLOCAL, WE HAVE A UNIQUE CHARACTER AND A UNIQUE FEEL YOU ONLY GET IN NEW YORK. IF YOU’RE SEEING A CONCERT IN THE SOUTH BRONX, REGARDLESS OF THE TALENT, IT’S REALLY A NEW YORK FESTIVAL. AND THEN WE LOOK A LITTLE DEEPER, THINKING ABOUT IF WE’RE REALLY DISTINCTIVE NEW YORK FESTIVAL, WHAT ARE THE GENRES AND CULTURAL MOVEMENTS THAT HAVE A STRONG HISTORY TO NEW YORK? WE HAVE DONE A FEW CELEBRATIONS AROUND THAT THOUGHT AND THIS YEAR, WE’RE CELEBRATING JAZZ. >>I WAS LOOKING AT THIS SUMMER’S LINEUP, WHICH IS VERY ECLECTIC. YOU HAVE THE JAZZ MUSICIANS. AS YOU MENTIONED, THE METROPOLITAN OPERA SUMMER RECITAL SERIES. YOU HAVE MOVIE SCREENINGS. >>YES. >>DANCE GROUPS. YOU MENTIONED YIDDISH SOUP, WHICH BROUGHT CANTORIAL AND HASIDIC SUPERSTARS. THERE ARE SOME PLAYS. AND COMICS. POETS, SO IT’S REALLY VERY ECLECTIC. YOU ARE FROM L.A. WERE YOU EVER A PERFORMER YOURSELF? >>NOT AN ARTIST. I ACTUALLY WENT TO PERFORMING ARTS SCHOOL GROWING UP, SO I DID ACT A BIT AND DANCE A BIT, BUT SOON INTO THAT REALIZED I REALLY PREFER NOT BEING ON THE STAGE. >>HOW DID YOU HAPPEN TO COME TO SUMMERSTAGE? >>I’D WORKED IN COMMERCIAL MUSIC BUSINESS PRIOR. I WORKED AT A BOOKING AGENCY AND RECORD LABELS AND RADIO. AND WAS BOOKING A CLUB IN NEW YORK, 500 CAPACITY CLUB IN LOWER MANHATTAN, AND THE JOB BECAME AVAILABLE, AND I APPLIED AND WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO GET IT. >>HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT PICKING THE PERFORMERS? WHAT’S THAT PROCESS LIKE. DO YOU GO AROUND THE CLUBS OR AROUND THE COUNTRY TO SCOUT OUT GROUPS? DO YOU GET INPUT FROM THE CULTURAL AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT OR OTHER ORGANIZATIONS? HOW DOES THAT WORK? >>IT’S A REALLY COMPLEX AND NUANCED, LIKE ANYTHING, IT’S PARTLY EXPERIENCE. I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN IT FOR A LONG TIME. IT’S A COMBINATION OF GOING OUT A LOT AND SEEING A LOT OF BANDS. I DO THAT BOTH IN NEW YORK WHERE WE’RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO HAVE JUST ABOUT EVERYONE PLAY HERE, AND I TRAVEL INTERNATIONALLY TO SEE ARTISTS OUTSIDE IN THEIR NATIVE COUNTRIES. I THINK IT’S A LOT ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. SO REALLY, I RELY ON MY COLLEAGUES AND AGENTS TO TELL ME WHAT THEY’RE WORKING ON, NEW SIGNINGS, WHAT THEY’RE LISTENING TO. AS WELL AS MY PRESENTING COLLEAGUES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY AND WORLD. SO IT’S A COMBINATION OF THINGS, AND THEN JUST — >>AND WHAT ARE THE CONSIDERATIONS IN CHOOSING THE GROUPS? WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR? >>USUALLY I’M LOOKING FOR AN ARTIST TO SORT OF BE BOTH CONTEMPORARY AND IMPORTANT IN WHATEVER GENRE THEY ARE DOING. SO IMPORTANCE CAN BE BECAUSE THEY’RE REINVIGORATING AN ART FORM, BECAUSE THEY’RE INNOVATING, IT CAN BE BECAUSE THEIR PROFILE IS REALLY BUILDING IN A MAJOR WAY AND THEY’RE GETTING A TON OF PRESS, OR IT COULD BE THAT THEY’RE JUST A VERY IMPORTANT ARTIST, AGAIN, FROM A CERTAIN GENRE OR COUNTRY THAT DOESN’T PLAY HERE OFTEN. TO GET THEM HERE IN NEW YORK, THAT WOULD BE MEANINGFUL FOR NEW YORKERS. >>NOW, THE CONCERTS ARE FREE. >>MM-HMM. >>DOES THAT MEAN THE ARTISTS ARE WORKING FOR FREE? OR — AND IF THEY ARE, HOW DO YOU CONVINCE THEM TO WORK FOR NOTHING? >>NOBODY SHOULD WORK FOR NOTHING. I CERTAINLY WOULD NOT WANT ARTISTS TO PERFORM FOR NOTHING. WE DO PAY THEM. WE PAY THEM AS COMPETITIVELY AS WE CAN, AND WE DO A LOT TO RAISE THE FUNDS TO PRODUCE THIS GREAT FESTIVAL. SO THAT’S A YEAR-LONG ENDEAVOR. WE HAVE A GREAT DEVELOPMENT TEAM THAT IS FOCUSED ON THE FUND-RAISING ASPECT. THAT’S EVERYTHING FROM BIG FUND-RAISING DINNERS. WE JUST HAD OUR GALA AND WE ALSO HAVE CORPORATE SPONSORS AND GOVERNMENT SUPPORT. YOU KNOW, DO A VARIETY OF THINGS TO RAISE THE FUNDS NECESSARY. >>WHAT’S YOUR ANNUAL BUDGET LIKE? >>FOR TALENT, IT’S ABOUT $500,000 IN CENTRAL PARK. >>WHAT WOULD YOUR BIGGEST COST BE? >>I MEAN, I THINK IT WOULD BE — IT’S PROBABLY EQUAL PRODUCTION AND ARTISTIC. PROBABLY SLIGHTLY MORE FOR PRODUCTION IN TERMS OF HAVING AN ADEQUATE STAFF FROM SECURITY TO SET-UP TO PRODUCTION AND ALL OF THE EQUIPMENT. SO YOU KNOW, RUNNING A FESTIVAL ON THE SIZE IS AGAIN, YOU KNOW, WE RUN FROM MAY TO OCTOBER FOR LONGER THAN ALMOST ANYONE. SO THE DAY-TO-DAY COSTS OF DOING THAT ARE EXPENSIVE, BUT CERTAINLY WE’RE IN IT BECAUSE WE BELIEVE IT’S IMPORTANT. SO LUCKILY, WE HAVE HAD THE SUPPORT FINANCIALLY TO DO THAT. >>OKAY, WE’RE GOING TO TAKE A SHORT BREAK AND I’LL BE BACK WITH MORE WITH ERIKA ELLIOTT RIGHT AFTER THIS MESSAGE.>>>WELCOME BACK TO “ONE TO ONE.” I’M SHERYL McCARTHY OF THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK. AND I’M SPEAKING WITH ERIKA ELLIOTT, EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE CITY PARKS FOUNDATION’S SUMMERSTAGE PROGRAM. DOES NEW YORK — YOU HAVE SUMMERSTAGE, WE HAVE THE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA CONCERTS IN THE PARK, WE HAVE DANCING AT LINCOLN CENTER. WE HAVE CONCERTS IN THE PARK. DOES NEW YORK HAVE MORE FREE STUFF, OUTDOOR EVENTS, THAN ANY OTHER PLACE? >>I DON’T KNOW THE METRICS, BUT I WOULD SAY PROBABLY. WE’RE SO, SO LUCKY IN THIS CITY. THERE’S SO MUCH FREE ARTS AND CULTURE, AND SO MUCH PEOPLE CAN ACCESS THAT IS FREE. YOU KNOW, TO ME, IT’S ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT BEING IN NEW YORK. >>AND CERTAINLY IN THE SUMMERTIME, IT’S A FUN PLACE TO BE. >>NATURE DICTATES THAT MOST OF WHAT WE DO IS SPRING TO SUMMER. AND EARLY FALL, EARLY FALL IS BEAUTIFUL. WE RUN INTO OCTOBER. >>SO YOU RUN FROM — >>MAY THROUGH OCTOBER. >>MAY THROUGH OCTOBER, OKAY. NOW, I REMEMBER SOME FAMOUS PERFORMANCES IN CENTRAL PARK, YOU KNOW, THE DIANA ROSS CONCERT IS NOTORIOUS. WAS THAT A SUMMERSTAGE EVENT OR SOMETHING ELSE? >>THAT WAS NOT. THERE ARE EVENTS THE PARKS DEPARTMENT AND CENTRAL PARK HOST AT THE GREAT LAWN, SO THAT’S WHAT YOU’RE THINKING OF. THAT’S WHERE SIMON AND GARFUNKEL PERFORMED AND ALL OF THAT. MUCH, MUCH LARGER OPEN FIELD, THE GREAT LAWN. BUT OUR SPACE HAS BEEN IN USE FOR 31 YEARS. AND OUR CAPACITY IS 5,000. >>TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE GROUPS, SOME OF THE PERFORMERS APPEARING THIS SUMMER AND HOW YOU SETTLED ON THEM. >>OOH, YOU KNOW, AGAIN, IT’S QUITE A PROCESS, BUT I THINK WE HAVE AN AMAZING SEASON. WE HAD A HOST OF GREAT EVENTS, BUT UPCOMING THIS WEEK, IN FACT TONIGHT, WE HAVE INDIGO GIRLS. REALLY IMPORTANT SINGER/SONGWRITERS WHO CERTAINLY COULD PLAY LOTS OF PLACES IN NEW YORK. WE HAVE KING SUNNY ADE, A VERY IMPORTANT AFRICAN ARTIST, A WHOLE HOST OF LATIN EVENTS. GREAT JAZZ MUSICIANS. THE REVIVE THE LIVE BIG BAND IS COMING. AND WE END OUR SEASON WITH CHARLIE PARKER JAZZ FESTIVAL, WHICH TO ME IS — >>IS THAT A THREE-DAY EVENT? >>IT IS. AND IN HARLEM FOR TWO DAYS, AND THEN IN TOMPKINS SQUARE PARK DOWNTOWN. AND ALL FOR FREE. >>OKAY. ANY NEW DISCOVERIES THIS YEAR? >>GOSH, THERE’S ALWAYS GREAT MUSIC HAPPENING OUT THERE. LET’S SEE, NEW DISCOVERIES. WE’RE DOING A REALLY EXCITING SHOW, I THINK, WITH ARTISTS WHO ARE MAKING NEW YORK DEBUTS. MBONGWANA STAR WHICH IS A CONGOLESE ELECTRO GROUP THAT IS MAKING A LOT OF NOISE INTERNATIONALLY, AND INTERESTINGLY, I THINK THEY’RE PAIRED WITH BATIDA WHICH IS A PORTUGUESE BAND THAT HAS CONGOLESE INFLUENCE AND IMAGES AND THEN A NEW YORK BASED ARTIST YOUNG PARIS WHO’S REALLY DOING SOME INTERESTING STUFF AROUND AFRICAN AND HIP HOP MUSIC. >>DID I SEE A MARIONETTE THEATER? >>YES, WE RUN IT IN CENTRAL PARK, AND THAT’S A YEAR ROUND PROPERTY WE MANAGE, AND WE DO PUPPETRY, BOTH THERE AND TAKE PUPPETS OUT INTO THE PARK ACROSS THE FIVE BOROUGHS. IT OPERATES YEAR ROUND. AGAIN, WE EVEN HAVE A HOLIDAY SHOW. >>HOW OFTEN ARE THERE SHOWS?>>TWO SHOWS A DAY. >>REALLY? >>YEAH, IN NEW YORK FOR A LONG TIME. THAT BUILDING, IN FACT, IS A HISTORIC BUILDING FROM THE WORLD’S FAIR. >>OKAY. WHO HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PERFORMERS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS? >>HARD QUESTION. YOU KNOW, ONE THAT WAS PARTICULARLY MEMORABLE WAS GIL SCOTT HERON JUST BEFORE HE PASSED. >>THE POET. >>YEAH, JUST AS AN INFLUENTIAL NEW YORKER AND SOMEONE WHO HAD SUCH IMPACT ON CULTURE AND HIP-HOP AND OTHER THINGS, TO BE ABLE TO PRESENT HIM WAS QUITE A MEMORABLE MOMENT. WE’VE HAD SO MANY IN THE TEN YEARS I HAVE BEEN THERE. AND EVERY SUMMER, THERE’S SOMETHING THAT IS JUST SPECIAL. SO IT’S REALLY HARD TO HONE IN ON A FAVORITE CHILD. >>YOU DON’T HAVE TO MENTION NAMES, BUT HAVE YOU HAD ANY PERFORMERS OR GROUPS WHO WERE A DISAPPOINTMENT TO YOU THAT YOU WANT TO OWN UP TO? >>YOU KNOW, NOT TOO MANY, TO BE HONEST. IN TERMS OF THE ARTISTRY. SOMETIMES WHAT IS DISAPPOINTING IS THE ATTITUDE, RIGHT? YOU KNOW, CERTAINLY THIS IS A LABOR OF LOVE FOR ALL OF US, AND WE’RE BRINGING ARTS TO NEW YORKERS FOR FREE, SO THERE HAVE BEEN A NEW INSTANCES OF ARTISTS THAT I REALLY RESPECTED AS MUSICIANS — >>WHO DIDN’T PLAY TOO WELL. >>HAD A CERTAIN AIR ABOUT THEM THAT WAS UNNECESSARY GIVEN THE FORMAT. THAT’S SAD WHEN YOU MEET SOME OF YOUR MUSICAL HEROES AND THEY’RE NOT QUITE AS NICE OF PEOPLE AS YOU HAD HOPED. >>DID I HEAR THAT YOU’RE A HIP-HOP DEVOTEE? >>I’M A FAN AND HAVE BEEN. I GREW UP LISTENING TO IT, AND I DEFINITELY — YEAH, I’M DEFINITELY A FAN. >>AND WHAT ARE SOME OF THE HIP-HOP GROUPS THAT HAVE PERFORMED OR WILL BE? >>THE OTHER THING I FEEL SUPER LUCKY TO BE IN A POSITION TO DO IN THIS ROLE IS TO CELEBRATE HIP-HOP, WHICH IS A NEW YORK ART FORM THAT HAS GONE GLOBAL, AND HAS MADE SUCH A HUGE IMPACT ON ARTS AND CULTURE AROUND THE WORLD AND TO CELEBRATE IT HERE IN ITS BIRTH PLACE. I WORKED WITH FOREFATHERS LIKE KOOL HERC AND CRAZY LEGS OF ROCK STEADY CREW. AND THEN I BROUGHT ARTISTS LIKE PUBLIC ENEMY RECENTLY TO BROOKLYN. THERE’S A HOST OF ARTISTS THAT WE PRESENT EVERY YEAR. I THINK IT’S REALLY IMPORTANT BECAUSE AGAIN THESE ARE ARTISTS FROM MANY OF THE NEIGHBORHOODS WE PRESENT IN WHO HAVE MADE AN INTERNATIONAL IMPACT. >>DOING THE JOB THAT YOU DO, YOU MUST HAVE LEARNED A WHOLE LOT ABOUT MUSIC, ABOUT A LOT OF ART FORMS. >>YEAH. >>JUST FROM RECRUITING FOR THE PROGRAM. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU HAVE LEARNED ON THE JOB? >>WELL, I HAVE TO SAY, I CAME INTO THIS ORGANIZATION REALLY WITH A VERY STRAIGHT-FORWARD, YOU KNOW, MAINSTREAM COMMERCIAL MUSIC BACKGROUND. AGAIN, WORKING AT RECORD LABELS AND SUCH. I REALLY DID NOT LISTEN TO MUSIC THAT WAS NOT IN ENGLISH. I DIDN’T KNOW THAT MUCH ABOUT WORLD MUSIC. YOU KNOW, MAYBE RAGGA OR SOMETHING OF THAT SORT, BUT WHAT HAS BEEN A REAL JOY IS TO REALLY HAVE A SENSE OF GLOBAL COMMUNITY ACROSS MUSIC, AND THERE REALLY IS A COMMUNITY OF PEOPLE MAKING MUSIC ACROSS THE WORLD AND COMING TOGETHER TO CREATE PROJECTS. I THINK THAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST THING. IT REALLY DID OPEN MY WORLD TO TAKE THIS JOB AND TO BE IN A POSITION TO REALLY HAVE TO LISTEN TO THINGS THAT MAYBE CHALLENGED ME, THINGS THAT I DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE LYRICS TO BECAUSE I DIDN’T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE AND I COULD STILL LEARN TO APPRECIATE. THAT’S BEEN THE REAL GIFT AND JOY OF THE JOB, TO REALLY EXPAND MY FRAME OF REFERENCE IN WHAT MUSIC CAN BE. >>I WAS WATCHING A MOVIE YESTERDAY, A FRENCH MOVIE. AND IT CENTERED ON A FRENCH FAMILY THAT WAS INTO AMERICAN COUNTRY WESTERN AND THINGS. THEY SANG AND DANCED TO IT, AND I SAID, WOW, WHO KNEW? COUNTRY MUSIC DEVOTEES IN FRANCE. SO HAVE SOME OF THE GROUPS BEEN NON-ENGLISH SPEAKING, SINGING? >>OH, YEAH. ABSOLUTELY. A GOOD PORTION OF WHAT WE DO IS NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOT DOMESTIC. IN GENERAL, WE PROBABLY PRESENT ABOUT 60% U.S. ART FORMS. AND THAT COULD BE FROM SINGER/SONGWRITER TO JAZZ TO HIP-HOP TO OPERA, TO WHATEVER. AND THEN 40% TO 50% IS GLOBAL INTERNATIONAL MUSIC. SO OFTEN IT’S NOT IN ENGLISH. OFTEN IT’S IN WHATEVER LANGUAGE OF COUNTRY OF ORIGIN. A GOOD PORTION OF WHAT WE PRESENT IS GLOBAL MUSIC, AND OFTEN NOT IN ENGLISH, YEAH. >>WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER SOME OF THE — YOU SAID YOU WERE IN PERFORMING ARTS, I GUESS, IN HIGH SCHOOL? >>YES. PERFORMING ARTS A BIT AND THEN I SHIFTED MORE TO THE CREATIVE ARTS AND PHOTOGRAPHY AND I HAD ALWAYS BEEN A PAINTER, DRAWER, THOSE KINDS OF THINGS. BUT YEAH, ONCE I WENT TO COLLEGE IS WHEN I REALLY THOUGHT I WOULD LOVE TO STILL BE AROUND MUSIC, BUT I DIDN’T WANT TO BE A PERFORMER. I WORKED AT MY COLLEGE RADIO STATION. I INTERNED IN RADIO WHEN I WAS IN COLLEGE. AND THEN WHEN I MOVED TO NEW YORK, INTERNED AT A RECORD LABEL AND THAT’S BEEN MY LEGACY FROM THE RECORD LABEL TO OTHER RECORD LABELS, BOOKING AGENCY, AND BOOKING A SMALL VENUE IN NEW YORK AND NOW THIS FESTIVAL. >>WHEN YOU WERE WORKING FOR THE RECORD LABEL, WHAT DID YOU DO? >>I WAS WORKING IN RADIO PROMOTION. WE HAD REGIONAL REPS THAT WERE PROMOTING OUR ARTISTS VIA RADIO. SO I WAS WORKING WITH THAT TEAM TO COORDINATE AND HELP PROMOTE THE ARTISTS. >>OKAY. IS THAT — YOU KNOW, I WOULD IMAGINE THERE WOULD BE SOME CUNY STUDENTS WHO WOULD BE INTERESTED IN GETTING INTO THAT FIELD. WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO DO IT? IS IT INTERNSHIPS? WHAT IS IT? >>I INTERNED FOR A YEAR, UNPAID, WHILE WORKING A FULL-TIME JOB. AND YOU KNOW, THINGS MAY HAVE CHANGED. IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME. BUT ULTIMATELY, IT’S ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS. SO I THINK INTERNING, CERTAINLY IF YOU CAN GET AN ENTRY-LEVEL PAID POSITION, THAT’S GREAT, BUT A LOT OF TIMES INTERNING IS THE WAY TO GO, JUST TO BUILD THE RELATIONSHIP, TO SHOW WHO YOU ARE, TO GET THE KNOWLEDGE. AND THEN OF COURSE SOCIAL MEDIA NOW AND YOU CAN CREATE A LOT OF THINGS ON YOUR OWN. I IMAGINE THAT COULD BE AN ENTRY POINT TOO. >>WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF THE GREATEST REWARDS OF YOUR JOB? >>GOSH, I FEEL SO LUCKY TO EVERY DAY BE BRINGING MUSIC AND ARTS AND CULTURE TO PEOPLE. THERE’S NOTHING BETTER. HAVING WORKED IN MUSIC, I ALWAYS THOUGHT AND FEEL THAT MUSIC IS REALLY IMPORTANT. IT CAN LIFT YOUR SPIRITS, IT CAN GIVE YOU SOLACE. IT CAN DO A LOT OF THINGS FOR YOU. AND TO THEN NOT — TO BE CREATING PLATFORMS WHERE PEOPLE CAN ACCESS IT WITHOUT BARRIER, WITHOUT A TICKET PRICE TO COME SEE ARTISTS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO THEM, AND ALSO DISCOVERY, BEING ABLE TO PRESENT ARTS AND CULTURE IN NEIGHBORHOODS THAT MIGHT NOT NORMALLY HAVE ACCESS TO IT, TO GET YOUNG PEOPLE IN FRONT OF THIS ART. ALL OF THOSE THINGS ARE SO REWARDING. I FEEL REALLY LUCKY. >>HOW MANY OF YOUR EVENTS DO YOU ACTUALLY GO TO? >>ALMOST ALL. >>SERIOUSLY? >>YESTERDAY, I WAS IN TWO LOCATIONS IN ONE NIGHT. I WENT FROM FLUSHING MEADOW PARK, A GREAT, HUGE CONCERT OUT THERE. ONLY IN QUEENS DAY, AND THEN CAME BACK TO CENTRAL PARK FOR TREVOR NOAH. I REALLY TRY TO GET TO ALL OF OUR SHOWS. AND THAT INCLUDES FAMILY DAYS AND DANCE SHOWS. WE OFTEN HAVE TWO SHOWS ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT. I DO MY BEST TO GET TO ALL OF THEM BECAUSE THAT’S THE GOOD STUFF. >>A TOUGH JOB, BUT SOMEBODY’S GOT TO DO IT KIND OF THING. >>EXCEPT BEING OUT THERE WITH THE AUDIENCE, THERE’S ONE THING TO SIT THERE AND IMAGINE HOW PEOPLE ARE GOING TO FEEL OR WHAT THE AUDIENCE REACTION IS GOING TO BE, BUT THE TRUE REWARD IS WHEN YOU’RE STANDING THERE AND SEE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE RESPONDING TO AN ARTIST. THAT’S WHAT YOU WORKED TOWARD. THAT’S SORT OF THE VALIDATION YOU’RE DOING IT RIGHT. TO NOT BE OUT IN THE FIELD AND TO BE OUT IN THE CONCERTS, THAT’S THE REWARD FOR THE HARD WORK. >>I WASN’T ABLE TO GET INTO THE TREVOR NOAH EVENT LAST NIGHT — >>BUT YOU HAVE TO COME BACK. >>I’M GOING TO TRY, COME TO MY FIRST SUMMERSTAGE EVENT. I’M AFRAID WE’RE OUT OF TIME, BUT I WANT TO THANK ERIKA ELLIOTT, EXECUTIVE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF THE CITY PARK FOUNDATION’S SUMMERSTAGE PROGRAM FOR JOINING ME. YOU CAN GET THE COMPLETE PROGRAM AND LEARN WAYS YOU CAN GET INVOLVED BY LOGGING ONTO CITYPARKSFOUNDATION.ORG. FOR THE CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK AND “ONE TO ONE,” I’M SHERYL McCARTHY. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

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