National Sawdust is pulling from its extensive archive to present a slate of programming from artists such as Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Renée Fleming and Meredith Monk. The digital platform, titled “Live@NationalSawdust,” launched March 30 with a throwback to the first concert held in the venue.
“National Sawdust harnesses the power of music to drive community by creating a home for collaboration, a place where artists and audiences alike come together to share their passions,” a post on the website noted. “Even though our physical doors are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re still building community through this digital platform, ‘Live@NationalSawdust,’ for all to find joy and inspiration.”
The program will feature concerts drawn from more than 1,200 live performances staged over the past five years and will include digital offerings from the non-profit’s artist mentorship programs.
The announcement also revealed the digital platform will include fundraising efforts for the performing arts institution and artists involved. Additionally, the statement pointed to future plans to work with the city’s Department of Education to provide content for teachers and children while schools are shuttered. Mentorship workshops with artists will continue digitally.
“I am thinking of you all, from the artists we have worked with, to our audiences, to our supporters, and our team, and my spirit and my heart is with you in this incredibly challenging and heartbreaking time,” composer, co-founder and artistic director Paola Prestini said in a letter online. “Like everyone, National Sawdust has been hit hard by this crisis, and we’re in a place to imagine a new reality, and a new future.”
Joining several arts organizations around the city, earlier this month National Sawdust announced that all live venue operations would be paused. The institution has since stated that event programming will not resume until fall 2020. For the time being, half of the National Sawdust staff remains working, with Prestini and managing director Brian Berkopec forgoing salary.
The site encourages making a donation to help the institution continue its mission and “support the artists that are the lifeblood of our community.” The organization also asks audiences to consider donating to artists directly.
“We are committed to reopening in the fall, and we firmly believe that these challenges will only strengthen the resolve and resiliency of our artistic community and New Yorkers at large,” Prestini said in a statement. “More than ever, our city will need a home for discovery, one that welcomes and celebrates new music in all its forms and vibrancy. We look forward to greeting this next chapter and to working together to build a more inclusive and compassionate future.”