Is New York Over?

Some of you may have read Gia Kourlas’ article in the Times in which she asserts , “A truth must be faced before it’s too late: New York is no longer the capital of the contemporary-dance world.”

I’ve heard the same thing said by others and not just in relation to dance. I’ve heard it about theater, about comedy and lots of other disciplines. For whatever reason – cost of living, gentrification, cultural shifts, funding shifts, the influence of television and the entertainment industry, chauvinistic provincialism- NYC is not the vibrant, adventurous hotbed of the arts it once was.

Having just returned from the Edinburgh Festival (culturebot has been boring everyone with his tales of travel, if you have been so assaulted, we apologize in advance) I can say there is some really amazing work being made outside of the U.S.A. And having talked to artists across the country it seems that people are choosing not to come to NYC but rather stay at home and make work where they can still have a reasonable quality of life on an artist’s wages. If artists are choosing not to move to NYC and there is also really great work being made in Europe that means there is a LOT of great work that New Yorkers are not being exposed to. So the challenges are many: How do we bring that work here? How do we expose New York artists to work being made elsewhere? (Through Culturebot! Philanthropists wanted to fund regional culturebot sites! we’ve got the domain names if you’ve got the funding!)

It is a complicated question. There is a very convincing argument to be made that we are at a significant cultural moment and it’s also very likely that this moment will not be defined by New York.

What do you think? Is New York over? If it is, can it be revived?


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