SummerStage in Central Park is an annual highlight for many New York City music lovers, and its organizers say it’ll be even bigger and better next year thanks to $5 million in renovations.
City Parks Foundation, a private nonprofit that has organized SummerStage since 1994 (though SummerStage in Central Park has been around since 1986), announced that the Central Park stage will get a makeover ahead of the 2019 season.
The list of upgrades includes a new, larger canopy and stage, a new sound system, more bathrooms, raised bleachers, a rearranged layout and improved artist dressing rooms and production areas.
“Our stage is 18 years old and it’s at the end of its useful life, so we ended up spending more and more every season to repair it when we took it down, because we’re a temporary venue,” said Heather Lubov, executive director of City Parks Foundation. “Because we were going to invest in building a new stage, we decided it was the right time to take a look at the venue overall and see if there were ways we could improve it.”
Photo: Mark Doyle
That 18-year-old stage has posed some limitations, she explained, because it wasn’t built to withstand the weight of modern productions. Today, many artists need more space for lighting equipment and certain set pieces, she said.
With the renovated stage, Lubov said that SummerStage in Central Park will be able to better accommodate a variety of performers.
“There are [artists] we’ve come close to having to turn away, which would be terrible,” she said. “Most of the shows are free, but even still, we want to make sure that people coming to our venue have a world-class experience as they would at any other performing arts venue.”
How SummerStage in Central Park will be different in 2019
Along with a renovated stage, Lubov said that she’s most excited about how the SummerStage makeover is the new way people will move through the space.
The current SummerStage in Central Park set up means that when attendees walk to the bathroom or to concession stands, they walk in front of people watching the concert, depending on where they are standing.
The new SummerStage will be laid out more like a baseball stadium, with the pathways to the food and bathrooms behind those watching the event. The bleachers will also be on a platform for the SummerStage 2019 season, so those sitting in seats will be able to see over those standing for the concerts.
The $5 million in upgrades comes from a combination of public and private sources, with $3.1 million of that coming from the city of New York.