“We’ve only just begun” has significance on many levels. For one, it’s the start of this season of free cultural events in NYC via Ariana’s List. Second, list subscribership has increased significantly in the past year. I think we’re about to reach a tipping point…so this is only the beginning (and please keep spreading the word!) And lastly, there is a lot in store for this season, for the future of this list. Think better technology and user experience. So it’s an exciting start!
For you, newbies:
Welcome. Let me introduce myself. I’m Ariana.
I sent my first email many years ago, inviting friends to join me on my semi-neurotic, free, summer cultural itinerary. Back in the day, I had banker buds, grad school chums, non-profit pals, and unemployed friends. “Free” made arts available to all of us. Friends would forward my emails and we’d have massive groups come to hang out over high-quality culture and people. Through word-of-mouth, friends of friends would ask to be added to the list…and it grew.
I continue to stick to “free” because of my strong conviction that high-quality arts should be accessible to everyone. It has become my lifelong work in all projects I take on. And nothing compares to the sultry wonderfulness that are NYC summer evenings and the beautiful art we, the public, get to experience together.
How It Works
I usually start each week with an anecdote of a cultural event I went to and why it was great…or wasn’t. I congratulate venues and institutions when they get the audience experience right, and ponder how things can be better when they don’t. I have personal experience and have heard stories about people not returning to a venue because of poor service, in one way or another (not just traditional customer service.) Were you ever publicly humiliated by a museum guard to MOVE AWAY FROM THE PAINTING. That type of thing. Do arts institutions really want to start off on that foot? Let’s make sure everyone can have a positive arts experience that makes them want to come back.
I focus on the summer, Memorial Day through Labor Day. I aim to get the list out every Thursday with events until the following Sunday (i.e, 11 days worth of events are in each list.)
I try my best to make sure that all events on the List are accurate. But sometimes it rains and sometimes it pours (both literally). And who knows when a sore throat or sprained ankle might appear. To ensure the best possible experience, always check the links to confirm artists, locations, and times.
In general, here’s a key to the recommendations:
- 💁: an Ariana’s List-produced event (because, obviously, I’m biased and, you should know that. See more below);
- 👍: my recommendation of the day;
- 😀: where I’ll most likely be. Let’s hang.
I am also a concert producer and focus on music in public spaces that is free to the public (i.e. ARTS FOR ALL!) Currently, I’m working with Bryant Park and the 34th Street Partnership to book two FREE series during the summer:
- Accordions Around the World, Bryant Park (Wednesdays, June 29 – August 31)
- Six soloists will perform around the park each week, 7/6-8/24 (6-8pm), with a picnic launching the series on 6/29 (6-8pm), and a finale festival closing the series on 8/31 (5-10pm).
- Live at Penn Plaza, the public space outside of One Penn Plaza between 33rd and 34th Streets, close to Eighth Avenue Mondays – Thursdays, May 16 – September 29). Website will be updated soon!
- Blues, soul, and funk: Mondays, 6-7:30pm (May – September)
- Global dance parties featuring music from around the world: Tuesdays, 6-7:30pm (May – September)
- Acoustic lunchtime series: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-1:30pm (July – September)
You will see these events listed weekly, and you will most likely be able to find me at them (please, come say hi!)
What do you have to do?
This list is generally FREE for you. All I ask in return is to please spread the word and be social! What you can do:
- Don’t just forward this list. Tell your friends to sign up.
- Follow me on social media:
- On Instagram, I share photos of events I attend;
- On Twitter, I write out sporadic thoughts and observations on NYC and I share last minute events that didn’t make it onto the week’s list here;
- On Facebook, I post interesting articles and photos around free culture in New York and arts accessibility.
- While the list has grown, there is the intent for it to still be social. I love my friends and equally love strangers. Let’s hang out! If you see something on this list that is of interest, let me know and we can try to organize a group outing.
But if you’re in a position to…
You can make a donation here. This is a pet project with zero funding. Researching and writing takes me hundreds of hours a month. And I pay out of pocket for hosting, listserv fees, etc. So if you have found joy in events from this list and if you’re in a situation to do so, please consider making a donation. Thank you!
Thanks, friends. Aight, enough talk. Let’s get thee to a concert!
Aight, here’s what I got for the week:
Friday, May 27
👍 Dance: Open Studios with Ephrat Asherie Dance. Choreographer and dancer Ephrat Asherie shares her latest project that blends breaking, hip-hop, and house. RSVP Required. Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, 125 Maiden Lane, NYC, 6:30-7:30pm >>
Theater: Much Ado About Nothing. See 5/26 listing. Bryant Park Upper Terrace, 41st St./6th Ave., NYC, 7-9pm >>
Saturday, May 28
Fair: BAM DanceAfrica Bazaar. Closest you’ll get to feeling like you’re in an African market (outside of Africa, of course.) Lafayette Ave. and Ashland Place, Brooklyn, 12pm. Through Monday, 5/30. >>
Art/Dance: Open Studios. Governors Island is open! Check out the painting, sketches, new media, writing, theater, dance and performance art at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Open Studios event. Choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili presents a multidisciplinary performance at 2:30pm (on Saturday only). The Arts Center, Room 110, Governor’s Island, 12-5pm. Through Sunday, 5/29. >>
👍 Artmaking/Dance/Music: ¡Oye Corona! This monthly event celebrates the cultures of Queens. This month, there’s artmaking as well as performances by the Bangladesh Institute of Performing Arts and Colombian band, Bulla en el Barrio. Corona Plaza, 103rd Street & Roosevelt Ave., Queens, 3:30pm >>
Music: Bargemusic. Every Saturday afternoon, this great classical music venue has free concerts, including a Q&A with the musicians. It’s also a cool location: an old floating barge on the East River with amazing views of the city. Bargemusic, Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn, 4pm >>
Theater: Much Ado About Nothing. See 5/26 listing. Bryant Park Upper Terrace, Midtown, 7pm-9pm >>
Dancing: Late Night Dance Party with Tony Humphries. DanceAfrica programming continues after hours with legendary DJ Tony Humphries, who brings his trademark blend of house, soul, gospel, and disco. BAMcafé, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn, 10pm. >>
Sunday, May 29
Fair: BAM DanceAfrica Bazaar. See 5/28 listing. Lafayette Ave and Ashland Place, Brooklyn, 12pm >>
Art/Dance: Open Studios. See 5/28 listing. At 3:30pm, Dance Heginbotham presents excerpts of a recent project (Sunday only). The Arts Center at Governors Island, Building 110, 12-5pm >>
👍 Parade/Music/Theater: Loisaida Festival. Celebrate the once heavily Puerto Rican LES with the Loisaida Festival, the largest ethnic community pride festival in the Lower East Side. This day begins with a parade and carnival procession, and continues with music from the likes of Latina icon and Vedette of America, Iris Chacón, and boogaloo hero Johnny Colon. Avenue C and 11th Street, NYC, 11am >>
Music: Parker Quartet. This Grammy-Award-winning group is renowned for their dynamic, compelling interpretations and varied repertoire, ranging from classical to romantic to new music. Two sets. Rite of Summer Music Festival, Nolan Park, Governors Island, 1pm and 3pm >>
Theater: Much Ado About Nothing. See 5/26 listing. Bryant Park Upper Terrace, Midtown, 3pm-5pm >>
Monday, May 30
Fair: DanceAfrica Bazaar. See 5/28 listing. Lafayette Ave and Ashland Place, Brooklyn, 12pm >>
Music: Annual Memorial Day Concert. This concert is all about the venue: NY’s iconic cemetery. Music played will be that of their eternal residents (the likes of Leonard Bernstein and Fred Ebb.) I went a few years back and it was very pleasant. Greenwood Cemetery, 500 25th St., Brooklyn, 2:30-5pm >>
👍😀 Music: New York Philharmonic. The New York Philharmonic presents a gift of free music to New York in one of its most beautiful churches, Saint John the Divine. This concert is a tribute to Kurt Masur, the late Music Director Emeritus who inaugurated this tradition in 1992. Special guest: Wynton Marsalis. The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine, 1047 Amsterdam Ave. at 112th St., NYC, 8pm >>
Music: Living Colour. The Grammy-winning metal/blues/funk/jazz band gives a free late-night (and I mean late-night) performance at the historic Blue Note Jazz Club. Note only are these guys amazing musicians, they’re also some of the nicest people in the business. I’m a huge Will Calhoun fan! Note that this is actually Tuesday morning. Be sure to register. Blue Note Jazz Club, 131 W. 3rd St., 2am (doors open at 12am). >>
Tuesday, May 31
💁👍😀 Music: Golem, Live at Penn Plaza. Klezmer folk punk phenomenon Golem has become a leading re-interpreter and innovator of Yiddish and Eastern European music, creating new songs, tearing through musical conventions, and pushing tradition forward into new territory. The six-piece accordion-led outfit sprinkles fiddle on top of old school punk which demands that you dance along. One Penn Plaza, Midtown, 6pm >>
Wednesday, June 1
👍 Dancing/Music: Cuban Salsa with Los Hacheros. One of the top salsa/son bands in NY today, playing original music with that gritty 1970s original salsa sound. The band accompanies your salsa dancing (and learn beforehand with free lessons!) Bryant Park Fountain Terrace, 41st St./6th Ave., NYC, 6pm-8:30pm >>
Film/Talk: Refugee Kids. A short documentary that follows students at a New York City summer program for children seeking asylum from the world’s most volatile conflicts. The film presents an intimate, emotionally gripping account of the students’ stories of escaping war and conflict and resettling in America, chronicling their triumphs and setbacks as their lives unfold over the course of one formative summer. Followed by a discussion with the filmmaker. Tenement Museum, 97 Orchard St., NYC, 6:30pm >>
Dancing/Music: Arriba! Latin Dance Party with Orlando Marin. Orlando Marin celebrated his 80th birthday and is considered the last mambo king. Go dance to his band’s live music. The High Line, Chelsea Market Passage at 16th St., NYC, 7pm >>
Thursday, June 2
👍😀 Music: Los Hacheros. For the second day in a row (performing at Bryant Park on 6/1), this time Los Hacheros gives Brooklyn its beautiful salsa and son. Preceded by a personal favorite, Batala NYC, an all-female samba reggae band playing music from Salvador, Brazil. Under the Manhattan Bridge, DUMBO, Brooklyn, 6pm >>
Talk/Music: Cannonball Adderley – The 1970s. Artistic Director, Christian McBride, has a depth of knowledge of and a passion for Adderley; and, will give visitors access to stories of, rare recordings of and insights into one of the most significant musicians in jazz, National Jazz Museum in Harlem, 58 W. 129th St., NYC, 7pm >>
👍 Music: The Huntertones. This high-energy brass outfit plays B-Side, BRIC TV’s live in-studio music series that features performances from emerging and established musicians. The in-studio seating is very limited and is first come, first served. BRIC, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn, 7:30pm >>
Theater: Much Ado About Nothing. See 5/26 listing. Bryant Park Upper Terrace, Midtown, 9pm-11pm >>
Friday, June 3
Film/Talk: T-Rex. Seventeen-year-old Claressa “T-Rex” Shields came from the streets of Flint to reach the Gold Medal podium in London in 2012, the first time women were allowed to box in the Olympics. But as we see in this coming-of-age story, life outside the ring may be an even tougher fight. After the screening there will be a Q & A with the producer of ‘T-Rex’, Sue Jaye Johnson, and NYC Parks boxing teacher Colleen Flood. Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, 1 Clarkson St., NYC, 7pm >>
Theater: Much Ado About Nothing. See 5/26 listing. Upper Terrace Bryant Park, Midtown, 7pm-9pm >>
Saturday, June 4
Music: Pablo Mayor plays the Music of Colombia. Pablo is an amazing pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader. McGoldrick Branch of the Queens Public Library, 155-06 Roosevelt Av. (off Northern Blvd), Queens, 2pm >>
Music: Bargemusic. See 5/28 listing. Fulton Ferry Landing, Brooklyn, 4pm >>
👍😀 Music: The Legends Honor McCoy: McCoy Tyner Quartet / Ron Carter / ft. guest Wallace Roney / Roy Haynes. Summerstage in Central Park begins its season with jazz greats honoring one of its own. McCoy Tyner has prestige of his own, but he’s also known for playing with Coltrane. This is big! Summerstage, Central Park Rumsey Playfield, NYC, 5pm-10pm >>
Art/Music/Film: Brooklyn Museum First Saturdays. This is one of my favorite events. You can run around the museum, go on tours, listen to music or stories, make art, dance your booty off, be mesmerized by the fountains outside the museum, be mesmerized by the children who are mesmerized by the fountains, or in general, people-watch. A diverse crowd, and so interesting and fun. Check the link for all offerings. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, 5-11pm >>
Theater: Much Ado About Nothing. See 5/26 listing. Upper Terrace Bryant Park, Midtown, 7pm-9pm >>
Sunday, June 5
Art: Arts in Bushwick. A gathering for neighbors, artists, and all community members over art and performances. Schedule TBD. Irving Square Park, Knickerbocker Ave. & Halsey St., Brooklyn, 12pm >>
A tip for the future: I’ve been a fan of Elastic City, an organization that presents creative, participatory walks led by artists around NYC. They announced (as did the NY Times) that this will be their final season and have just released their calendar of walks in July. Catch them while you can! You must RSVP for these walks and they will fill up fast. RSVP now.
Aight friends, that’s what I got. Have a great week!
All good things,