By Lisa Kava
A celebration of music, dance and the arts will take place on the Upper West Side on Saturday, October 22, from 11AM to 4PM.
The second annual Amsterdam Eco-Arts Festival will be held on the open streets of Amsterdam Ave between 109th and 110th Street. The festival is organized by the West 80’s Neighborhood Association, the Columbus-Amsterdam BID, and Jody Sperling, founder of the dance company, Time Lapse Dance. “We want people to start thinking about streets as public spaces where they have full access to gather, dance and have fun community experiences,” Sperling told West Side Rag.
The schedule for the festival is as follows:
11 AM- 12PM: Community bulb planting
12-12:40 PM: Native American storytelling
12:45-2PM: Dance performance by Jody Sperling and Time Lapse Dance, entitled “Plant/Silvery” blue
2-2:30 PM: Family dance class
2:30-3:00 PM: Dance performance by Jill Sigman, a choreographer from Think Dance
2-4 PM: Community art project for families
Sperling, an Upper West Sider for 25 years, was introduced through a mutual friend to Melissa Elstein, co-founder of the West 80’s Neighborhood Association, who also has a dance background. Sperling and Elstein share a love of dance and the arts, and also a common goal of “activating open streets with joyful gatherings on land that is usually occupied by cars.” Wishing to initiate a celebratory event on an Upper West Side Open Street, they worked together with the support of the Columbus-Amsterdam BID, to create the first Amsterdam Eco-Arts Festival last fall. That event was attended by approximately 200 people.
The Open Streets Program, organized by the NYC Department of Transportation during the COVID 19 pandemic, has closed certain streets to cars at designated times in order to transform streets into public spaces. The Columbus-Amsterdam BID has been operating Open Streets on both Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues since the spring of 2020, Peter Arndtsen, BID manager told the Rag.
The Amsterdam Eco-Arts Festival on Saturday is free, open to the public, and advance registration is not required. Sperling and Elstein are hoping to spread the word for a positive turnout. They need volunteers to help plant bulbs at 11 AM, and to be part of the chorus for the dance performance at 2:45 PM. If you would like to get involved or volunteer, contact Jody Sperling at email@example.com.
“It will be an awesome day celebrating urban nature, community, dance and the movement arts,” Elstein told the Rag.
Incredible and depressing that City DOT allowed “Open Streets” on avenues with bus routes, depriving people of essential mass transit. An especially huge hardship for elderly, people with medical/mobility issues and families with kids.
Incredibly mass transit isn’t even considered here in the justification-description “..closed certain streets to cars at designated times in order to transform streets into public spaces.”
This event is over a total of 5 hours on one street on a Saturday morning. I can understand he concern about medical/mobility. Although I feel confident folks can find a way to not use this 1 street during those hours. As for families with kids, you are joking right?
I think mla was addressing open streets in general not just a five hour, one morning closure.
For what its worth, these closures are far more justified on side streets than avenues that are bus routes and where a major hospital is only three blocks north. Folks in the backs of ambulances can find a way to not use this one block but that entails a detour and delay that, all things considered, I’d rather not be subject to.
I agree. Street fairs of many blocks on an ave. usually can be worked around by an ave. or two, but this particular block near and directly leading to the hospital’s ER on W.114th (but near several restaurants trying to attract more business!) is a truly poor bad choice.
The West 111th St. Block Association restaurant night has a similar issue, when they block off Amst. bet. W.110-111th for several hours in the evening: ambulances and delivery vehicles cut through, around the barriers. M11 buses still have to detour.
It IS vexing and not good for older and/or disabled people to have to figure out where one’s bus route will be for much of the day. Have never seen conspicuous, specific signage at each regular stop about where to get the bus instead. That is a significant problem for me.
When 110th-111th is closed, the M11 bus northbound cannot get back to Amsterdam until 120th because of the Columbia campus.
Besides the hospital, there is also the Phipps/Echo senior residence and Amsterdam nursing home on Amsterdam near 112.
So because one block 110-111 is closed so more outside tables for brunch, buses going northbound are detoured 10 blocks to 120th.
Don’t we have Riverside park and a huge Pier for something like this? Why the streets?
Segments of Columbus and Amsterdam have been closed for weekend “Open Streets” for a while now.
That means diversion of buses every weekend.
People deserve to have regular bus access – and
unbelievable that mass transit is no longer a priority in NYC.
A side street could be used for entertainment.
Streets in NYC are for ambulances , deliveries and public transportation.
Bravo – few things are better for environment and reducing emissions than getting cars off our streets.
The buses, tricks, and cars are not off the street. True they are off this/these blocks. But they are still being driven, and they drive more and pollute more to detour around the event. Viewed in this context, the event (and open streets generally) displaces pollution to other New Yorkers and increases pollution overall. It would be better if these were held on non-bus route side streets that have less traffic needing to be displaced.
I’m not sure I can relate to the logic. Not that I am pro emissions, but getting cars off our streets? We have to get to and from places, and that’s what cars and buses are for. The streets were build for transportation, not for dancing.
Most people don’t know this, but NYC actually has a subway that gets people from place to place, you should check it out!
Isaac, when you are elderly or disabled try climbing and descending the steps to get the subway. Your sarcasm rings a bit hollow.
Using streets as a public place for gathering and pitching the actual idea as something that is good for the community could only be greeted by people who don’t need to commute on regular basis for work or health reasons. Not all of us work from home.
You present this as news but really it should be sponsored content by the Open Streets coalition, whatever its name is. I think all the Open Streets have essentially been railroaded through. I don’t see the point of having them all the time, particularly in an area which is so close to two major parks. The UWS is one of the few areas in Manhattan that doesn’t have the kind of congestion (though it certainly has some) that those areas which require access to bridges and tunnels. So let’s create our own! My impression is that the more streets are closed, the more dangerous the ones remaining become.
wonderful thanks for telling us about this
Love that there is such creative programming for this event. Can’t wait to check it out!
I’ve always thought of streets as public spaces. In my mind, open streets closes streets to the public, making life more difficult for everyone who relies on mass transit, for ambulances, and for workers and delivery people. Morningside Park is only a few blocks away.
One block will be closed for a few hours. Dear lord people – can we just stop complaining about everything?