With a team of interviewees from across the city, we collected over 150 stories of New Yorkers, asking them what 7 o'clock meant to them growing up and what it means to them now and about the rapid pace of change in their city. An audio installation at the TED 2018 Conference in Vancouver shared these stories. Image from Instagram.

With a team of interviewees from across the city, we collected over 150 stories of New Yorkers, asking them what 7 o'clock meant to them growing up and what it means to them now and about the rapid pace of change in their city. An audio installation at the TED 2018 Conference in Vancouver shared these stories. Image from Instagram.

One of seven voice and movement workshops led by artist and musician Goussy Célestin, Photo by Luis Paez. Top banner choir rehearsal photo by Luis Paez.

One of seven voice and movement workshops led by artist and musician Goussy Célestin, Photo by Luis Paez. Top banner choir rehearsal photo by Luis Paez.

A Walk Through Time was a new, commissioned work by Kamau Ware that featured the personal narratives of seven New Yorkers whose routines around 7 o’clock were chronicled through portraits and oral histories that were shared during a walking tour along the High Line. Photo by Luis Paez.

A Walk Through Time was a new, commissioned work by Kamau Ware that featured the personal narratives of seven New Yorkers whose routines around 7 o’clock were chronicled through portraits and oral histories that were shared during a walking tour along the High Line. Photo by Luis Paez.

A city-wide public engagement project with 1,000 singers, reflecting on the rapid pace of change through dialogue and performance

Background

For six nights, October 3-8, 2018, 1,000 singers from across New York came together on the High Line for the first-ever performances of The Mile-Long Opera: a biography of 7 o’clock. Audience members were active participants in this ambitious, collective, free choral work. As they walked along the elevated park, the public moved in and out of groups of singers, immersing themselves in hundreds of stories, inspired by the accounts of a wide range of New Yorkers, about life in our rapidly changing city. Peoplmovr was invited by the creators of the project, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (who are also the architects of the High Line), to organize an extensive public engagement initiative that included all five NYC boroughs.

Process

We developed an engagement plan that centers involvement. The plan highlights the various roles and milestones of the creative process as a means to connect with communities throughout the year, leading up to the final performances. To begin, we asked hundreds of New Yorkers to share their stories on the theme of 7 o'clock and found a deep desire from communities to have their stories heard. Then, strategic partnerships with seven borough-based arts and cultural organizations allowed us to create opportunities for community members to add their voices to the project. Through partnering with communities to develop a series of public programs, we worked to bring the project closer to people through relevant points of entry months before the final High Line performances occurred.

Outcome

In Brief: 

  • 150 interviews with New Yorkers recorded and transcribed

  • 7 Anchor Partners, covering all five boroughs 

  • 21 related, lead-up events with the Anchor Partners, including voice and movement workshops led by Goussy Célestin; community conversations; and newly commissioned walking tours with Kamau Ware

  • 3, 186 Anchor Partner early access community member reservations made

A network of borough-based partners joined the project and are listed below. With these partners we developed and delivered significant project activity throughout 2018. These partners were important places for communities to convene. Together, we opened up access to the project through a series of public programs designed to reflect the themes of the work through multi-generational voice and movement workshops and community conversations, where community members were invited to share their responses to the work and reflect on the impacts they see as a result of neighborhood change. We also designed for equitable ticket distribution throughout the city for the October performances by giving these partners early access to tickets and options to attend the work together as a community.

This engagement partner network included: Abrons Arts Center, the High Line, and the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce in Manhattan; ARTs East NY in Brooklyn; Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement in Queens; THE POINT CDC in the Bronx; and Snug Harbor in Staten Island.
Read the NY Times press release here and an untapped cities story featuring Peoplmovr's work on the MLO.