Reflecting on Lincoln Center’s 50 years

Posted on: May 11, 2009

In Sunday’s (5/10) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes that when President Dwight D. Eisenhower broke ground at Columbus Avenue and 64th Street for what would become Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, he “forecast that this ambitious endeavor, which wound up costing $185 million, would become a ‘mighty influence for peace and understanding throughout the world.’ Fostering international peace is a rather lofty standard by which to measure the success of Lincoln Center as it begins its 50th-anniversary celebrations on Monday morning at the newly renovated Alice Tully Hall. What really matters is that night after night, as the founders envisioned, the plaza is abuzz with crowds heading into Avery Fisher Hall [home of the New York Philharmonic], the Metropolitan Opera House, the Vivian Beaumont Theater and the other performance spaces of the center’s 12 constituents. … Nothing can be more energizing to the cultural life of a city than dynamic performing arts institutions. But the danger in grouping them together is that the creative identities of individual institutions—a bold modern dance company, a great symphony orchestra—can blur behind the walls of an officious encampment. … Whatever one’s take on the Lincoln Center at its 50-year milestone, the institution is certainly doing its part to stimulate the sagging economy. At a time of severe recession, when arts organizations everywhere are cutting back and even going under, Lincoln Center remains committed to its nearly $1 billion renovation project.”

Posted May 11, 2009