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Mark Doyle Photograph: Courtesy SummerStage/Mark Doyle Photography NY

SummerStage Anywhere gears up for a month of awesome female-led virtual performances for Women's History Month

The female-led organization, which transitioned to the virtual sphere this year, is platforming diverse artists in a rapidly changing world.

By
Will Gleason
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Capital One City Parks Foundation SummerStage, the annual concert and events series, is a classic highlight of every New York summer. Almost every New Yorker has a memory of going to one of its free park concerts and sharing an amazing live music moment with thousands of their fellow NYC residents. Needless to say, last summer looked a lot different. 

Luckily, even though SummerStage was forced to drastically change its mode of operations this year, the heart of its mission remained the same: to reach the greatest number of people through its diverse lineup of talented performers. The way that the organization was able to achieve that goal was through the creation of SummerStage Anywhere, a reimagining of the festival which brought its offerings online and presented them to a virtual audience all-year-long.

“In March of 2020, that summer’s festival was booked and we were moving into production mode,” says SummerStage’s Executive Artistic Director Erika Elliott. “Since then, we’ve been constantly evolving and making things work. We’ve had to be nimble and responsive in a way we never have before. Luckily, there’s something great about how quickly you can shift in a digital space when you’re booking concerts online.”

One of those major shifts was extending the timeframe of SummerStage beyond just summer. “There was a lot of philosophical thinking when we realized we couldn’t be in person and a lot of it was around how to make sure our audience is engaged, our community is engaged and that we were able to continue to support artists. Those are all reasons we extended the season.”

Over the last nine months, SummerStage Anywhere has been able to platform an impressively diverse array of artists—from a DJ set from a rooftop in Portugal and a live show in Trinidad to a performance captured in Mexico City. A portion of that diversity will be showcased this month in a special Women’s History Month series of events (being presented in association with Time Out New York) which kicks off tonight with The Rewind, a highlight reel of some stand-out performances from female artists featured in the digital series so far.

“SummerStage has always been a beacon in presenting and introducing global artists to New York audiences,” says Associate Director of Programming, Paula Abreu. “The Rewind showcase on March 4 celebrates Women’s History Month and looks back at stellar performances from our 2020 season, reflecting on the eclectic nature and diversity of SummerStage lineups, with performances from Tunisian singer-songwriter Emel, Afro-Cuban jazz singer Daymé Arocena, indie group Soccer Mommy and more.”

SummerStage
Photograph: Courtesy SummerStageErika Elliott, Daymé Arocena, Paula Abreu and Danni Gee

Following tonight’s event, upcoming Women’s History Month events that you can catch include “Rising Tides,” an International Women’s Day Celebration on March 8, a conversation with music icon and VP records founder Miss Pat on March 18 and a show highlighting the Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas and others on March 25. The month-long lineup is just a sampling of the wider range of diverse voice and artists that the organization has been able to spotlight in its new virtual form over the last year.

“Even though we can't wait to be back to in-person 'live' performances, going virtual has given me an opportunity to flex different creative muscles,” says SummerStage Dance Curator and Music Programming Associate Danni Gee. “I am proud of all the work we have done this year, and how artists have adapted, including Chloe Davis, who is the featured dancer in The Rewind showcase tonight.”

You can catch all of this month’s virtual events on SummerStageAnywhere.org and across SummerStage social channels including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitch. And you can check back on Time Out's site early next week for our exclusive interview with Miss Pat ahead of the March 18 showcase.

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