See inside Central Park’s revamped SummerStage venue

May 30, 2019

This summer marks the 33rd SummerStage to take place in Central Park, but this year, NYC’s largest, free outdoor performing arts festival has a completely revamped and reconceptualized venue to the tune of $5.5 million. The event, hosted by the City Parks Foundation, is comprised of 100 performances in 17 neighborhood parks throughout the city, but the flagship venue in Central Park is certainly the headliner. After 20 years, the 5,500-person space has a new stage with 20 percent more capacity and updated technology, along with a new circulation pattern meant to enhance the guest experience, new member and VIP viewing platforms, new concession areas, and more.

Top: the full view upon entering; Middle 1: looking towards the stage and the VIP Terrace; Middle 2: view from the terrace of two bleacher areas flanking the Member Lounge; Bottom: the terrace of the Member Lounge

The Central Park Conservancy hosted the first SummerStage concert in 1986. Then, the outdoor concert took place in the Naumberg Bandshell, but by 1990, the event had grown so popular that it moved a few hundred feet east to Rumsey Playfield. Four years later, the City Parks Foundation took over the event, and this year marks the first time that the entire venue has received a holistic overhaul. Highlights of the revamp include:

  • A 20 percent diameter increase in the stage canopy
  • A reinforced stage foundation to allow for larger acts
  • All new lighting, audio, and LED screens on the stage
  • A fun new design by Nic Goldsmith of FTL Studio utilizing repurposed shipping containers
  • New dressing rooms and a backstage patio area for artists and their guests
  • The Deck, a new covered artists’ guest viewing platform
  • Relocation of pedestrian circulation to the perimeter as to not disturb sightlines
  • Bleacher seating for up to 880 that has been raised three feet as to not obstruct views
  • A members lounge with a covered bar area and viewing balcony
  • A covered VIP seating area known as the Terrace, complete with a backstage bar and seating area
  • Air-conditioned and ADA-accessible bathrooms
  • New concession kiosks known as Sip n’ Snacks, managed by Best Beverage (who also handles concessions at Forest Hills Stadium)
  • A partnership with West Elm for the furnishings and decor in all dressing rooms and member/VIP areas

Top: Looking towards the entrance (to the right) and the artist deck (to the left)–the smaller, bright green containers are the Sip & Snack kiosks; Middle: the artists’ deck; Bottom: inside an artist dressing room and private suite 

SummerStage kicks off this Saturday in Central Park with a performance by Emily King, Durand Jones and the Indications, and Madison McFerrin. Some of the other highlights from Central Park’s 30+ performances include George Clinton’s farewell tour, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Corinne Bailey Rae, Parquet Courts, and the B-52s. SummerStage runs through October and will present more than 100 performances throughout city parks, 85+ of which are free. You can see the full lineup here >>

Map courtesy of City Parks Foundation/SummerStage


All photos © 6sqft

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