FREEDOME BRADLEY: Director of Theatrical Programs for New York’s City Park Foundation & SummerStage (Central Park)

I spent the day in Central Park with a friend of 20 years. As Director of Theatrical Programs for New York’s City Park Foundation and SummerStage, Freedome is a passionate force behind New York’s largest free performing arts festival, bringing over 100 performances to 18 parks throughout the 5 boroughs. If he ever decides to run for NYC Parks Commisioner, he has my vote. Freedome is driven to bring “top flight art” to adults and kids via Central Park’s SummerStage, The Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre and Puppet Mobile. I filmed our conversation as we tour the Swedish Cottage (the theatre where the puppet shows take place daily); learn Freedome’s story; the mission of the City Parks Foundation; meet the Puppet Mobile crew; and view the new development at Marcus Garvey Park, which opens June 2nd.

This story was filmed April 26th, 2011. I began sharing “My Small Story” April 26th; thus, I could not think of better story to begin my 2nd year of stories – a person that is committed revitalizing NYC parks and bringing art to New Yorkers in parks in all 5 Boroughs. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation.

The Swedish Cottage, built in Sweden in 1875, was placed in Central Park in 1877 at the suggestion of Frederick Law Olmsted. Since its arrival in the US, the Cottage has served a variety of purposes, perhaps most importantly being used as the headquarters for the Civil Defense during World War II. It was also formerly a tool house, a library, and Central Park’s entomological laboratory.

In 1947, the Swedish Cottage became known, as it is today, as the home of the Marionette Theatre. In a show of patriotism, both Swedish and American flags fly from the roof of what was once a traditional schoolhouse.

The 2011 season of SummerStage, New York’s largest free performing arts festival, brings over 100 performances to eighteen parks throughout the five boroughs. With performances ranging from American pop, Latin and world music to dance, spoken word and theater, SummerStage fills a vital niche in New York City’s summer arts festival landscape. Since its inception twenty-six years ago, more than six million people from New York City and around the world have enjoyed SummerStage. The festival runs from June 7th until September 2nd.

Brad & Simone: The Organizers Behind HarlemStage/Aaron Davis Hall, Inc.

Since 1979, Harlem Stage has been one of the nation’s leading arts organizations devoted to the creation and development of new works by performing artists of color. Brad Learmonth & Simone Eccleston are the passionate organizers behind the programming and arts education departments.  We take a tour of HarlemStage, discuss its history, E-moves, DJ Rich Medina and partnerships with NYC schools.  Harlem Stage has joined forces with the Apollo Theater and Jazzmobile to present the first Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival May 9, 2011.  Celebrating the unique legacy of jazz in the uptown community, the Festival will bring both established and emerging artists to some of the famed venues where jazz flourished in Harlem: Lenox Lounge, Showman’s Café, the Apollo Theater, Alhambra Ballroom, and Minton’s Playhouse. Other festival events will take place at Harlem Stage Gatehouse, Columbia University and a variety of locations throughout the Harlem area.

The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage and Jazzmobile have partnered specifically to create a resurgence of jazz opportunities in Harlem with this week-long festival. Jazz will be presented in all its various forms and diverse formats including jazz dance, concert, club, cabaret and dance events. Conceived as an annual offering, Harlem Jazz Shrines Festival will enable the partners to create a dynamic range of programming, highlighting the role that local Harlem venues have played in the development of jazz.The three partners are also collaborating with Columbia University and its Center for Jazz Studies and Institute for Research in African American Studies to bring humanities programming that will further highlight the cultural significance of the Festival. 

The Accidental Brothers: Jazz in Central Park

  After being an hour late due to NYC weekend subway delays and missing out on filming an entrepreneur and friend. I decided to take a walk starting from the SW corner of central park. Within minutes, I  came across the Accidental Brothers Jazz Quartet. A nice Saturday afternoon accident.  A group of musicians from all over America who met while jamming around NYC.

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