January 2024 I began the year with NYC culture at the Under The Radar festival – resurrected under partnership by ArKtype team, picking up Mark Russell’s brainchild, originally based at the Public Theatre.

For the past 20 years, January is the month for theatre and performing arts internationally to come to NYC and hold APAP (Association of Performing Arts Professionals) and ISPA (International Society for Performing Arts), and also a time of more experimental theatre.  Under the Radar used to indirectly spawned numerous other festivals (such as American Realness) to activate all of NYC. 
The symposia, the informal networking and discussion helped professionals to share challenges, raise new ambitions and understand an undercurrent of what the artists were creating.  COVID came for a few years and then in 2024 The Public Theatre announced it would not be hosting and it was rebirthed as UTR Festival, networked venues across the city showcasing programming.
All photos: Sherry Dobbin, SRD Culture Ltd.

What Emerges?

What is the Under the Radar work being created? What venues for presentation? What obstacles? Dashing about Manhattan and Brooklyn in a dense week raises the issues to the fore. Visiting new venues like Perelman Performing Arts Center (PAC NYC) a few months open and The Shed (NY) now settling into childhood as well as settled veterans New York Live Arts, National Sawdust and NYU Skirball helps to see trends and needs.

  • 🧐 flex, flex, flex is needed – artists want to adjust the space and audience experience
  • 💰💰💰it’s expensive to produce so work either needs to be
  • ⏩ fast! And smaller and leaner
  • Or 🍟supersized ambitious
    💵💶💷 funding options are shrinking
  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦👨‍👨‍👦‍👦👪👩‍👩‍👦 Audiences need to be welcomed with their cultural differences in expressiveness and engagement
  • 🗄️everyone needs businesses to do corporate hires/rentals to survive. It’s the new sponsorship/giving
  • 🎞️🎥📺 visual and performing arts share desire for creating immersive environments

Cultural Centres need to catchup with cultural production. Architects and Planners need to anticipate the future and not imitate past art centres. Theatre wants context and Visual Arts want immersion. The boundaries blur; the artists are not intimated by barriers; they have put the focus on the content, storytelling, and how audiences will be choreographed. New Cultural Centres will be infrastructure shells, offering spaces for presentation and creation that will be retold as part of the work. Capacity sizes crave a bigger gulf between intimacy and spectacle.  Like how we ingest from screen sizes (of tiny phone screens or projection across architecture), we want to be in community proximity and shared experience or a form of escapism. HOW we do it is also becoming a crucial aspect of scripted experience. 

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London-based. American-born. Times Square-tested. Internationally Distributed.

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