Be Nice: the importance of customer service and the arts (July 2 – 7, 2013)

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Dear Friends,

Who got yelled at by a security guard in a museum when they were a kid?

I did. Maybe you did too? I still remember the hounding voice of the man dressed in blue as he yelled “MOVE AWAY FROM THE PAINTING!” I was mortified and wanted to flee the museum ASAP. This was probably 25 years ago but that memory still haunts me. In my experiences working in museum education, I had flashbacks when I saw the same experience repeat itself again and again with other rule-unaware school children and…dun-dun-dun…the heartless security guard.

I learned my lesson years ago that I can’t get too near to pieces of artwork. But I had a similar scarring experience recently. While at a show last week, I was tapped on the shoulder and told that I needed to check my belongings. I took a minute to take a few pictures and tell my friends the situation. But the next thing I know, the woman who had tapped me, got in my face and threatened to have me escorted off the premises if I didn’t vacate immediately. Why was Ms. Up-in-my-grill so nasty? I was livid and I was hurt. I sulked in a corner for a little bit. But I thought to myself, “I’m glad this happened to me as an arts-lover and someone familiar with the venue.” Why? Because if this happened to someone who came here for the first time, they would never come back.

It’s so easy to scar people. Experiences like the ones I mention can stop someone dead in their tracks and he or she will never attend an arts event again. If it took a lot to get a visitor to attend in the first place, if anything negative happens during that visit, you’re screwed forever. Simply and logically, if people don’t feel comfortable, they won’t come back.

Our work in the arts, regardless of your title, is to make the audience feel comfortable always. A lot of the job is pure customer service: make people feel comfortable and welcome them. Meet them on their terms and embrace them wholeheartedly. That’s when they will begin to feel comfortable and make a home out of the venue. It doesn’t only have to be arts. I think this formula works for almost any cause with membership/visitorship.

I recognize that there are rules, but there are appropriate, non-antagonizing ways to share them. Staff and volunteers could receive kindness training. Managers should know the tone of their employees and volunteers, when engaging with the public and relay that it’s not okay to raise your voice in unimportant situations (Ms. Up-in-my-grill probably didn’t realize that I wouldn’t hurt a fly.)

This isn’t hard. Just be nice always. You don’t want to be the reason why someone swears off the arts, right?

Aight, this is what I got for Tuesday, July 2 through Sunday, July 7. If you are interested in a specific date, click through below:

Tuesday, July 2

Wednesday, July 3

Thursday, July 4

Friday, July 5

Saturday, July 6

Sunday, July 7

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Tuesday, July 2

 

Zydeco: Jeffery Broussard and the Creole Cowboys. One of the most influential accordionists(!) and vocalists in modern Zydeco music, Jeffery Broussard has defined a new style of Creole music, incorporating the soulful sounds of R&B into Zydeco music and dance. He will be joined by his band on guitar, bass, scrub board, and percussion. I took in a lot of zydeco when I was down in New Orleans in early May and this guy was on my “to hear” list. Should be good. Brookfield Place Plaza, 220 Vesey St., NYC, 5:30pm. >>

Latin:
Joe Bataan/Felix Hernandez’s Rhythm Revue. Joe Bataan, called the “King of Latin Soul,” was influenced by the melodic sounds of Doo-Wop and the energy of Latin music that were the hallmarks of his Spanish Harlem neighborhood. The famed Fania Records found this intersection of sound and culture enticing and propelled Bataan to become a major force in the “Latin Boogaloo” music scene. Felix Hernandez and his wildly popular radio show, Rhythm Revue, takes on a life of its own at New York’s Roseland, where three thousand disciples regularly come to hear Fernandez spin the sounds of the past and boogie down. This guy has a serious following. I wrote about Soundview as a venue a few years back and it fosters an amazing experience, especially for Latin music. This should be good. Summerstage, Soundview Park, Bronx, 6pm. >>

Cuban: Pedrito Martinez. Cuban-born, world-class percussionist and singer Pedrito Martínez has recorded and/or performed with many distinguished artists including Paul Simon, Wynton Marsalis, Paquito D’Rivera, Meshell N’degeocello, Eddie Palmieri, and Sting. The Pedrito Martinez Group has its roots planted firmly in the Afro-Cuban Rumba tradition and in the bata rhythms and vocal chants in the music of Yoruba and Santeria. Pedrito and his group bring “complex, blenderized Africa-to-the-New-World-Funk” (The New York Times). Rockefeller Park, Battery Park City (River Terrace/ Warren St.), NYC, 7pm. >>

Jazz/Talk: Nadav Remez. Part of the Jazz for Curious Listeners series. Israeli-born guitarist Nadav Remez is one of today’s emerging voices on the NYC Jazz scene. His melodic abilities on the guitar have been described as “haunting”, and his music as an intriguing combination of modern Jazz, Alternative Rock and Jewish Folk. Join us as he discusses his career and plays selections of his projects that highlight the connections between his Israeli and jazz musical style. National Jazz Musuem in Harlem, 104 E. 126th Street, Suite 2D, 7-8:30pm.

 

Wednesday, July 3

 

Dance: r e v e a l.  A site-specific dance work that includes transformation, nature, magic, latex, flaying, ecstasy, skin, hair, creatures, monsters, fantasy, aggression, impulses, the future, peristalsis, masks, perception, articulation, control, freedom, exertion, underwater trees, silk, minotaurs, semiotics, aliens, animals, sorcery, urgency, agency, fluency, and the translational acts of communicating through space and movement. Choreography by Silas Riener in collaboration with Rashaun Mitchell and Cori Kresge. The Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street, (btw. Old Slip/Broad St.), NYC, 1:30pm. Also on 7/5 and 7/6. >>

Multi: Culture-hopping, Bronx-style! On the first Wednesday of every month, the Bronx Council on the Arts provides a free trolley that hops along to venues in the South Bronx Cultural Corridor. Explore art exhibitions at Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos, the Bronx Museum of the Arts for a book-signing and tours, Andrew Freedman Home for an exhibition and tours, BronxArtSpace, Pregones Theater +. Check out the link for all the options and timings. This is super cool. Trolley departs from Longwood Art Gallery @ Hostos, on the campus of Hostos Community College at 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx at 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30pm. >>

Dance: STUFFED: Dinner and Dance with Bailout Theater. STUFFED is the low tech/high visibility dance component of Bailout Theater, a performance platform created by Judson Church that responds to the financial crisis by providing an evening of free food and performance to the public. The evening begins with a home-cooked meal sourced from local restaurants and Judson Church community members. Once the audience has indulged their bellies they can indulge everything else with a succinct selection of tasty dance entertainment. No cost, no catch, no proselytizing, no processed food. I love this. Judson Memorial Church, 55 Washington Square South, NYC, 7pm food, 8pm dance. >>
Poetry/Music: longstoryshort: Remixed: Nona Hendryx / Sandra St. Victor / Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely / Poets: Faybiene Miranda / Lenelle Moise. Sekou Sundiata was a New York City poet, performer and teacher who articulated a keen observation of sociopolitical issues and deftly wove them into the body of his work. Known to frequently collaborate with and be inspired by dynamic women throughout his career, longstoryshort: Remixed  celebrates Sundiata’s idea of the influential female muse through the performances of three commanding female artists, all known for their powerful voices and socially relevant lyrics. These artists will perform their own work as well as selections from Sundiata’s last CD, longstoryshort. The show will also be punctuated throughout with performances from cutting edge poets performing some of Sundiata’s classic works and new pieces inspired by his artistic legacy.This is part of the series Blink Your Eyes: Sekou Sundiata Revisited, a greater retrospective on Sundiata in which 18 cultural organizations participated. I saw one of the pieces this weekend and was blown away. This should be good. Summerstage, Central Park, NYC, 7pm. >>

 

Thursday, July 4

 

African: International African Arts Festival. I’ve never been but this festival have been going on for awhile and they have a nice line-up. This goes on all weekend. Check the schedule for the complete line-up. Commodore Barry Park, Navy Street (Park/Flushing Aves.), Brooklyn, 10am-9pm. Through Sunday, 7/7. >>

World Music: Accordions Around the World. ACCORDIONS!!!!!!!!!  This is Week 5 of the accordion series in Bryant Park and it’s been going so well! We were on TV twice last week and even got a feature on the front page of The New York Times culture section! Discover new music and a new appreciation for the world’s quirkiest (and now hip – we’ve started a trend!) instrument. This week, we have the following musicians and sounds:

Javier Samayoa, Latin American Soup of Music
JP Schlegelmilch, Indie-Folk-Classical-Jazz
Maria Dessena, Modern classics re-imagined
Mary Spencer Knapp, Jazz, Soul & Pop featuring Bass & Ukelele
Matt Dallow, Eclectic Rock Accordion Covers
Shoko Nagai, Japan-Jewish Connection

Please come and spread the word! Bryant Park, various locations within the park, off 42nd St. btw. 5th/6th Aves., 5-7pm. >>

Big Band Swing: Battle of the Bands: The George Gee Swing Orchestra vs. Mora’s Modern Rhythmists. Celebrate July 4th with some very American music. NY-based George Gee brings his Chick Webb–inspired 12-piece combo to defend the heritage of the Savoy Ballroom while Dean Mora and his Modern Rhythmists represent Los Angeles’s mid-’60s Palomar Ballroom with its Roaring ‘20s take on swing. The night starts with a dance lesson. Make sure you wear your red, white, and blue vintage finest for an intermission fashion contest. Midsummer Night Swing, Damrosch Park, 62nd Street btw. Columbus/Amsterdam, NYC, Dance Class at 6:30pm, Live Music at 7:30pm. >>

Ethiopian: Fendika featuring Melaku Belay. I saw Fendika last year at Joe’s Pub. I had just come back from Ethiopia and had missed the top traditional music and dance group there. They are rooted in the ancient azmari tradition of bardic minstrels, while the dancers draw deeply from the well of tradition, but also tap joyously into their natural creativity. The group features six performers – two dancers, a singer, and instruments including kebero drums, masenko (a one-stringed bowed fiddle), and krar (a five- or six-stringed lyre). Fendika leader Melaku Belay is the world’s foremost interpreter of eskista, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of athletic shoulder movements that presage hip hop dance styles like breaking and popping.This Alastair Macaulay quote accurately captures Melaku’s energy: The rhythmic virtuosity of Melaku was often astounding. He can turn either the upper or lower body into an electrifying vehicle of rapid pulsation…Simply to see him sway his body to the music was a marvel: the angle of his out-held elbows, the pliancy of his spine, the rhythmic point of those shoulders all made their sensuous contributions. A happily superlative artist.” David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, Frieda and Roy Furman Stage, Broadway, 62nd/63rd St., NYC, 7:30pm. Again on Saturday, 7/6, 7:30pm. >>


Friday, July 5

 

African: International African Arts Festival. I’ve never been but this festival have been going on for awhile and they have a nice line-up. This goes on all weekend. Check the schedule for the complete line-up. Commodore Barry Park, Navy Street (Park/Flushing Aves.), Brooklyn, 10am-9pm. Through Sunday, 7/7. >>

Dance: r e v e a l.  A site-specific dance work that includes transformation, nature, magic, latex, flaying, ecstasy, skin, hair, creatures, monsters, fantasy, aggression, impulses, the future, peristalsis, masks, perception, articulation, control, freedom, exertion, underwater trees, silk, minotaurs, semiotics, aliens, animals, sorcery, urgency, agency, fluency, and the translational acts of communicating through space and movement. Choreography by Silas Riener in collaboration with Rashaun Mitchell and Cori Kresge. The Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street, (btw. Old Slip/Broad St.), NYC, 1:30pm. Also on 7/6. >>

Soul/Rock: Jonathan Toubin’s Soul Clap & Dance Off featuring Young Jessie and King James & the Special Men. I am so excited for this. I saw King James & the Special Men in the smokiest bar I’ve ever been in, when I was down in New Orleans earlier this year. I felt like I was partially in a motorcycle club, partially on the set of Dirty Dancing. Regardless, it was ridiculously special and they are ridiculously talented. I’m not sure the experience will translate to the big stage of Lincoln Center but I’ll be there anyway. This is their NY debut and first time playing outside of Louisiana! What else: DJ Jonathan Toubin will spin an extended “maximum rock and soul” set leading into an after-hours Silent Disco edition of his popular Soul Clap and Dance Off party. Best known for his hit “Mary Lou,” Young Jessie epitomizes the wild ’50s blend of West Coast R&B and rock ‘n’ roll. He has cut some of the best records of the era on his own and as a member of the Coasters and the Flairs. Midsummer Night Swing, Damrosch Park, 62nd Street btw. Columbus/Amsterdam, NYC, Jitterbug Dance Class at 6:30pm, Live Music at 7:30pm. >>

Film: First Fridays at the Bronx Museum. Suite Habana. In collaboration with the African Film Festival.  Music by DJ David Medina and The Cimarron Project. Joyce Kilmer Park, Grand Concourse btw. E. 161st/164th Sts. (Rain location: The Bronx Museum of the Arts, 2nd floor North Wing), Bronx, 6-10pm. >>

 

Saturday, July 6

 

African: International African Arts Festival. I’ve never been but this festival have been going on for awhile and they have a nice line-up. This goes on all weekend. Check the schedule for the complete line-up. Commodore Barry Park, Navy Street (Park/Flushing Aves.), Brooklyn, 10am-9pm. Through Sunday, 7/7. >>

Ethiopian: Fendika featuring Melaku Belay. I saw Fendika last year at Joe’s Pub. I had just come back from Ethiopia and had missed the top traditional music and dance group there. They are rooted in the ancient azmari tradition of bardic minstrels, while the dancers draw deeply from the well of tradition, but also tap joyously into their natural creativity. The group features six performers – two dancers, a singer, and instruments including kebero drums, masenko (a one-stringed bowed fiddle), and krar (a five- or six-stringed lyre). Fendika leader Melaku Belay is the world’s foremost interpreter of eskista, a traditional Ethiopian trance dance of athletic shoulder movements that presage hip hop dance styles like breaking and popping.This Alastair Macaulay quote accurately captures Melaku’s energy: The rhythmic virtuosity of Melaku was often astounding. He can turn either the upper or lower body into an electrifying vehicle of rapid pulsation…Simply to see him sway his body to the music was a marvel: the angle of his out-held elbows, the pliancy of his spine, the rhythmic point of those shoulders all made their sensuous contributions. A happily superlative artist.” David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center, Frieda and Roy Furman Stage, Broadway, 62nd/63rd St., NYC, 11am. >>

Dance: 4CHAMBERS. A sensorial journey into the human heart (through Officers’ House #15 on Governors Island.) Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects transforms this architectural site into a performance space with corridors that function as arteries and veins leading to four discrete chambers. Guided by six cast members, an audience of twelve will move through the space, monitoring their own hearts. Saturdays & Sundays, July 6-21. Email mercedes@jodyoberfelder.com to reserve tickets. Governor’s Island, Officers’ House #15,
multiple performances at 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2:30 pm, 4 pm, 5:30pm. >>

Dance: r e v e a l.  A site-specific dance work that includes transformation, nature, magic, latex, flaying, ecstasy, skin, hair, creatures, monsters, fantasy, aggression, impulses, the future, peristalsis, masks, perception, articulation, control, freedom, exertion, underwater trees, silk, minotaurs, semiotics, aliens, animals, sorcery, urgency, agency, fluency, and the translational acts of communicating through space and movement. Choreography by Silas Riener in collaboration with Rashaun Mitchell and Cori Kresge. The Elevated Acre at 55 Water Street, (btw. Old Slip/Broad St.), NYC, 1:30pm. >>

Art/Music/Dance/Talk: 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, in general, so interesting, so much fun. Check the link for all offerings. Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, 5-11pm. >>

Rap/Soul/Funk: Theophilus London / Les Nubians / Aabaraki. Theophilus London “who seems to have studied his Prince, his Andre 3000, and, especially and perhaps most surprisingly, his PM Dawn,” (Philadelphia Inquirer) comes off “like a boastful, macho Janelle Monáe [who] attempts to bridge the 1950s and the 2050s.”  With the French-Cameroonian sisters Les Nubians whose “unique Afropean soul lifts the spirit and moves the feet,” (USA Today) and the reduction stutter funk of Brooklyn’s Aabaraki. Celebrate Brooklyn, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, 7pm. >>

 

Sunday, July 7

 

African: International African Arts Festival. I’ve never been but this festival have been going on for awhile and they have a nice line-up. This goes on all weekend. Check the schedule for the complete line-up. Commodore Barry Park, Navy Street (Park/Flushing Aves.), Brooklyn, 10am-9pm. Through Sunday, 7/7. >>

Dance: 4CHAMBERS. A sensorial journey into the human heart (through Officers’ House #15 on Governors Island.) Jody Oberfelder Dance Projects transforms this architectural site into a performance space with corridors that function as arteries and veins leading to four discrete chambers. Guided by six cast members, an audience of twelve will move through the space, monitoring their own hearts. Saturdays & Sundays, July 6-21. Email mercedes@jodyoberfelder.com to reserve tickets. Governor’s Island, Officers’ House #15,
multiple performances at 11:30 am, 1 pm, 2:30 pm, 4 pm, 5:30pm. >>

Circus/Dance/Music: “Callings” from the Carpetbag Brigade and “Landscape Reinvention Society” from Nemcatacoa Teatro. I’m really looking forward to this. I was first introduced to both these troupes last year when I worked at the Festival de Teatro in Colombia. There was a major circus and street art component to the conference (circus is a well-respected art form in other parts of the world) and these guys were all over the place. I’m so excited to see that they’re in New York! Part of Family Day with a performance by children’s artist, Elizabeth Mitchell, dance companies Ifetayo Youth Ensemble, ASE Dance, and Natural Expression Rhythm Band. Summerstage, Central Park, NYC, 3-6pm. >>

Aight, that’s what I got. Have a good week everyone!

All good things,

Ariana

 

 

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Ariana’s List started as a an attempt to share my love of summer, art, and NYC with the friends I hadn’t seen in awhile. It has since become a source of NYC free culture year-round. I share what I think is good culturally, review events I’ve been to, and write about issues around access and equity in the arts. It’s part resource, part cultural diary. The mission is general: to share free good art with good people.

Follow me on FacebookTwitterInstagram, Foursquare, and Vine (I’m Arianaslist). I send last minute listings and observations through these sites.

2 Responses

  • Russell | July 15th, 2013 @ 4:14 pm | Reply

    This is a great list!

    • Ariana | July 15th, 2013 @ 4:18 pm | Reply

      Thanks for the comment!

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