New York City’s Cultural Resilience, Then and Now

The cultural sector continues its cautious reopening this fall as theaters, museums, restaurants and other establishments recalibrate. Prognostications about the city’s wellness are ever changing — but this is hardly the first time that New York has weathered dire pronouncements about its vitality as one of the nation’s cultural capitals. The city has prevailed through many reinventions in decades past, and has consistently emerged with its artistic spirit, ingenuity and wellsprings of creativity intact.

How did the city’s cultural landscape repair itself after setbacks from the economic and civic tumult in the 1970s, the challenges of crime and crumbling infrastructure in the 1980s and the ravages of the AIDs epidemic on the artistic community in the 1990s? What lessons can the arts leaders and creators of today take from those efforts? The renewal of New York’s cultural landscape is cyclical, resilient and enduring — and yet, what is unique about today’s challenges?

In this virtual event, Jazmine Hughes, a Metro reporter for The Times, explores these questions alongside a panel of guests whose work was crucial to the past cycles of the city’s cultural revival. We will hear from the writer, activist and historian Sarah Schulman, whose 2021 book, “Let the Record Show,” tells the riveting story of ACT UP and AIDS activism in New York, during a pandemic of a different kind. We will also be joined by the legendary artist, musician and multimedia creator Laurie Anderson, whose genre-defying work has for decades been a part of New York’s arts world, providing a visual and aural backdrop to the story of the city. Finally, with a new play, opera, musical and film, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage shares insights on being a multi-hyphenate creator in today’s New York City.

This event is part of our A City Stirs coverage.

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