New Perelman Performing Arts Center Opens on Ground Zero!

New Perelman Performing Arts Center

Dear Commons Community,

The new Perelman Performing Arts Center is the most glamorous civic building to land in New York in years.

The official ribbon cutting was on Wednesday. You may have noticed the building under construction if you were near the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan during the past year or so. A floating, translucent marble cube, it nestles at the foot of One World Trade Center, just eight stories high, small compared to the herd of mega-tall commercial skyscrapers but impossible to miss.

The $500 million, 129,000-square-foot project arrives at a moment, and in a New York, very different from the one in which it was conceived two decades ago. Back then, the city was all-consumed by grief and fear, its economy in free-fall, ground zero still a smoldering gravesite. We were reminded just this week of the toll when the names of the thousands of dead were again read aloud.

After more than two decades of imagining, planning, debating, fund-raising, losing hope and fund-raising some more, the Perelman Performing Arts Center opened officially for first performances on Thursday night at the World Trade Center site, which buzzed with politicians, celebrities and benefactors whose contributions allowed the once-foundering project to be realized.

The first person to step onstage for a performance on Thursday night.  was Amanda Gorman, the 25-year-old poet whose civic-minded work has become a centerpiece of major events since she recited a poem at President Biden’s inauguration.

“We ignite not in the light but in lack thereof,” Gorman said, in a poem that reflected not just on the Sept. 11 attacks but also to the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic. “For it is in loss that we truly learn to love. In this chaos we have discovered clarity. In our suffering we have found solidarity.”

Cynthia Erivo sang “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” The ballerina Tiler Peck moonwalked, on pointed shoes, to a rap by Tariq Trotter. The countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo performed both parts of a duet from Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro,” twirling from stage left to stage right with each character change.

New York’s civic leaders and arts administrators have spoken for two decades of the importance of building a haven of artistic creation in a place that had become synonymous with tragedy and death.

“Here, on this very site, where so much loss and devastation took place,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, the  former mayor who is chairman of the Perelman board, “the arts will bring a special sense of hope for the future.”




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