By Morgan Wright
New York City, New York
NYCNext is a new non-profit organization dedicated to rebuilding New York City arts culture and community post-pandemic. The non-profit was built with the goal of helping New York revert to its more vivacious self after being struck so hard by COVID-19.
NYCNext was founded in August by Maryam Banikarim, the Head of Marketing for NextDoor. Banikarim said, “Tired of all the stories of NY being dead, we pulled together with friends to see how we could help. What began with little more than an email and a bias toward action has yielded an organic, bottom up movement." The website features an array of Love Letters to New York, short letters from New Yorkers that highlight a persons’ own experience living in New York. In her own Love Letter to New York, Banikarim wrote, “I know New Yorkers to be resilient, dedicated, creative and innovative. This will never be a city for the faint of heart. This is a city of dreamers and do-ers.”
Banikarim also believes that NYC’s arts community is part of what makes NYC so special. She said, “The creative community––from our street musicians to our chefs to our Broadway stars––is perhaps the greatest source of New York’s energy. It is the heartbeat of the city. Yet as the pandemic lingers, New York City has been forced to exist in a semiconscious state, caught between the twin goals of keeping people safe and preserving their livelihoods.”
NYCNext has also made an effort to host events, live and in-person. These events are spontaneous and with COVID-19 in mind. While these events are socially distanced, NYCNext believes that they are crucial for rebuilding the arts culture of New York. These pop-up performances began in the fall of 2020. In September, they held an event called “COVID-19 Memorial, Rockaway Queens.” NYCNext partnered with Kristina Libby in Rockaway, Queens, to create a memorial for all of the lives lost due to COVID-19. Around 40 people gathered to create a flower memorial while listening to live music by Willie Martinez. The memorial was cast into the Atlantic Ocean after the event.
On October 7, countless members of the Broadway community gathered in Times Square for a musical performance. This event was live streamed and called “A Moment for Broadway, Times Square.” In December, the Met Opera Chorus gathered to perform on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This event was named “Members of The Met Opera Chorus, The Met.” NYCNext called this a holiday gift to the city. This performance was covered both locally and nationally as well as live streamed on Instagram.
NYCNext does not report when their performances are because they do not want to attract large crowds and need to adhere to social distancing guidelines; however, performances are always livestreamed on their Instagram (@NYCnext) and uploaded onto their YouTube (@NYCNext) the next day.