New York City is the center of the art world and The Shed simply adds to the magic.
The new arts center dedicated to commissioning, develops, and presents original works of art, across all disciplines, for all audiences, will open to the public on April 5 with the world premiere of Soundtrack of America.
This incredible complex is more than a center – it is a tremendous movement. The definition alone of a shed is a structure that holds tools. And, it is a meaning that carries an abundance of wealth and incredible motivation. The world now has a gift that was created by the instruments found in this box of wonder.
To launch The Shed is a five-night concert series, conceived and directed by Steve McQueen with a creative team led by Quincy Jones and Maureen Mahon, celebrates the unrivaled impact of African American music on contemporary culture with performances by a new generation of artists. A free live stream of the April 5 concert will be available on The Shed’s website, TheShed.org, and its social media channels.
The opening commissions continue on April 6 with new work by artist Trisha Donnelly and the world premiere of Reich Richter Pärt, an immersive live performance installation from iconic artists Steve Reich, Gerhard Richter, and Arvo Pärt, featuring new works by Richter and a new composition by Reich. The world premiere of Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, a specially commissioned spoken and sung dramatic work by poet and scholar Anne Carson, starring Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming, directed by Katie Mitchell, will be performed on April 9 (with previews on April 6 and 7).
In development for more than a decade, The Shed is a nonprofit cultural institution located on city-owned land on West 30th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues on Manhattan’s west side, where the High Line meets Hudson Yards. It is housed in The Bloomberg Building—designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Lead Architect, and Rockwell Group, Collaborating Architect—an innovative, movable structure that adapts to support new work of all kinds. The Shed’s primary program spaces include two floors of expansive galleries, the versatile 500-seat Griffin Theater, and The McCourt, a multiuse hall for large-scale performances, installations, and events for audiences ranging from 1,250 seated to more than 2,000 standing. A rehearsal space, lab for local artists, and event space are located in The Tisch Skylights on the top floor.
“As a commissioning home for artists from the worlds of performance, visual arts, and pop, The Shed is a place for all artists and all audiences to meet,” said Artistic Director and CEO Alex Poots.
Dan Doctoroff, Chair of The Shed’s Board of Directors said, “The Shed is doing something very different: a new idea of a cultural institution; an unprecedented building in a new part of the city; a new team commissioning all new work. It is uniquely of New York, dedicated to the pursuit of boundless artistic ambitions across all art forms for all audiences.”
Elizabeth Diller, of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, said, “Eleven years in the making, The Shed is opening its doors to the public as a perpetual work-in-progress. I see the building as an ‘architecture of infrastructure,’ all muscle, no fat, and responsive to the ever-changing needs of artists into a future we cannot predict. Success for me would mean that the building would stand up to challenges presented by artists while challenging them back in a fruitful dialogue.”
David Rockwell, of Rockwell Group, said, “The Shed was conceived as an adaptable and structural palette that will allow an extraordinarily diverse group of creators and artists to incorporate the building into their work. After what has been a wildly satisfying collaboration, we are thrilled to hand The Shed over to the artists and audiences who will carry it forward. I couldn’t be prouder. It’s an exciting addition to the long lineage of institutions that have kept our city on the cutting edge of the arts. Ultimately, it is a testament to the energy of New York City.”
In recognition of a $25 million gift from Kenneth C. Griffin, The Shed announced earlier this week that its 11,700-square-foot, 500-seat theater has been named The Kenneth C. Griffin Theater. “The Shed will create new opportunities for artists and audiences to join together in unique experiences. Over a decade in the making, this space reflects New York’s determined commitment to fostering artistic expression and the idea that the arts should be accessible to everyone,” said Griffin. Including this gift, The Shed has raised $529 million toward its capital campaign goal of $550 million, which includes building costs, organizational start-up expenses, and support for the creation of new work.
Soundtrack of America, April 5–14, The McCourt
Conceived and directed by Turner Prize-winning artist and Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen and developed with music visionaries and academic experts including Quincy Jones, Maureen Mahon, Dion ‘No I.D.’ Wilson, Tunji Balogun, and Greg Phillinganes, Soundtrack of America is a five-night concert series celebrating the unrivaled impact of African American music on contemporary culture with performances by today’s most exciting emerging musicians.
The headline performers for Soundtrack of America are:
April 5 at 8 pm: PJ Morton, Rapsody, Sheléa, and Victory, featuring special guest Jon Batiste
April 7 at 8 pm: Braxton Cook, Kelsey Lu, Jade Novah, Smino, and Tank and The Bangas
April 9 at 8:30 pm: Samm Henshaw, Judith Hill, ill Camille, Emily King, Fantastic Negrito, and serpentwithfeet
April 12 at 8:30 pm: Cory Henry, Melanie Faye, Terrace Martin, Oshun, and Sy Smith
April 14 at 8 pm: Keyon Harrold, Eryn Allen Kane, Phony Ppl, Moses Sumney, and Tamar-kali, featuring special guests Richard Bona and Natasha Diggs, plus and appearance by Aja Money.
Special guest performers include: Natasha Diggs, resident DJ for all five nights, tap dancer Michaela Marino Lerman (April 5), and jazz harpist Brandee Younger (April 7), banjoist Dom Flemons (April 9), Vy Higginsen’s Sing Harlem Choir (April 12), Cameroonian Grammy-winning bassist Richard Bona (April 14), and poet Aja Monet (April 14).
A free live stream of the April 5 concert will be available on The Shed’s website, TheShed.org, and its social media channels. Major support for Soundtrack of America is provided by the Ford Foundation.
Reich Richter Pärt, April 6–June 2, Level 2 Gallery
An immersive live performance installation in The Shed’s galleries, Reich Richter Pärt explores the shared sensory language of visual art and music. Composer Steve Reich and artist Gerhard Richter will debut a world premiere commission, as two New York groups—Ensemble Signal and International Contemporary Ensemble—will alternate performances of Reich’s new score in counterpoint with Richter’s new work, including a new moving picture work created by Richter and filmmaker Corinna Belz. Each presentation of Reich Richter begins with a performance of Richter Pärt, a collaboration between Richter and Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. Two New York-based choirs—the Brooklyn Youth Chorus and the Choir of Trinity Wall Street—will sing Pärt’s music within an installation of Richter’s new work, in the form of tapestries and wallpaper. The Richter Pärt partnership builds on a concept originally developed by Alex Poots and The Shed’s senior program advisor Hans Ulrich Obrist for the Manchester International Festival in 2015. The Reich Richter composition and film were newly commissioned by The Shed as part of Reich Richter Pärt, and co-commissioned for a concert setting by The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Gustavo Dudamel, Music and Artistic Director; Cal Performances, University of California, Berkeley; Barbican Centre and Britten Sinfonia; Philharmonie de Paris; and Oslo Philharmonic.
Trisha Donnelly, April 6–May 30, Level 4 Gallery
New work by artist Trisha Donnelly.
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy, April 6–May 19,
The Griffin Theater
In 1964, an office manager has hired one of his stenographers to type out his translation of Euripides’s Helen but his obsession with the recently dead Marilyn Monroe kidnaps the translation. Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming star in this spoken and sung performance piece by poet, essayist, and scholar Anne Carson, directed by Katie Mitchell with music composed by Paul Clark.
(Preview performances April 6 and 7; opens April 9).
IN FRONT OF ITSELF, ongoing, The Plaza
A large-scale, site-specific work by artist Lawrence Weiner is embedded in The Shed’s plaza, serving as a walkable outdoor area when the movable shell is nested over the fixed building, or as the base of The McCourt when the shell is extended to the east. The 20,000-square-foot work is titled IN FRONT OF ITSELF and features the phrase in 12-foot-high letters fabricated with custom paving stones.
Here is to the magic of The Shed.