PRG Illuminates Lincoln Center’s Gift to NYC - Summer for the City
Lincoln Center has a four-decade long history of inviting residents to enjoy outdoor programming during the summer. In the more recent past, it hosted two summer festivals each year, but when the pandemic curtailed events, the Center’s new management reinvented its summer programming with the goal of bringing in a younger and more diverse audience. This year, it introduced Summer for the City which consists of more than 300 events from May 14 to Aug. 14 and includes 10 outdoor venues and three indoors.
In launching the program, Shanta Thake, Lincoln Center’s Chief Artistic Officer stated, “Whether it’s rejoicing the night away on the dance floor, reclaiming rituals hindered by the pandemic, or moments for collective remembering, we offer this warm welcome to come together after so much time apart.”
PRG signed a three-year contract to support Summer for the City with lighting. The Center needed a provider who was also capable of supplementing multi-discipline services on short notice based on the show demands; with that, PRG is also providing the video package and supervisory crew for the 12-week event.
PRG account executive and Northeast sales lead, Susanna Harris said, “The technical staff at Lincoln Center has to have a partner that understands the challenges inherent in doing outdoor shows, has a deep gear inventory and can react quickly to support whatever the programming might demand for any given show.”
Summer for the City provides two key performance spaces: The Oasis (on Josie Robertson Plaza), which includes the city’s largest outdoor dance floor, and Damrosch Park. The Oasis is an elaborate space envisioned by Broadway costume and scenic designer Clint Ramos, designed to draw people in to hang out when not used for dancing and other programming. A 20-foot-tall truss structure covers entire plaza which is anchored by a 10-foot disco ball suspended over the fountain. The structure’s middle legs are clad in two-way mirrors that are reflective in the day and the whole truss structure glows at night. The dance floor is painted blue and radiates out, evoking the oasis theme.
Lighting designer Andrew Grant, who has been involved with the event since 2009 and helped transform the production, said, “For lighting the stage and mirror ball, the challenge is that the structure is open to the elements, 24/7 for 12 weeks. We needed outdoor rated fixtures to handle the weather and PRG was able to provide us some really good options.”
PRG had already been steadily increasing its inventory of IP 65 (outdoor rated) fixtures and for this project purchased Elation Proteus Maximus™ profile fixtures and Proteus Rayzor 760™ wash lights.
“IP-rated fixtures have only become widely available in the last couple of years, but demand for them has been increasing and we were eager to make the investment to support Summer for the City and other outdoor events in the New York area,” said Harris.
Grant relied on the gobo effects of the Proteus Maximus and the continuous 360- degree rotation of the Proteus Rayzor 760 to create the dance party/club effects. The Rayzor 760 also has a great built-in eye candy features for club effects. Additionally, 116 Astera AX5 fixtures, which are also IP rated, are used as truss toners which is a key element of the overall lighting of the space. All the AX5 features including chasing, channel mapping, color changing and strobing were employed, and they are a central element of the whole look.
“PRG has the most diverse fixtures to choose from and that was a really important aspect of what we were trying to accomplish. We got what we needed which is not easy in post-pandemic times especially with all the shows back on” said Grant.
The flagship venue for the event is Damrosch Park’s bandshell and 2,500-seat amphitheater. It plays host to dancers, musicians, sing-alongs, and everything in between. There, Grant uses a mix of Proteus Maximus, GLP Impressions X4 and Clay Paky B-Eyes. The lights are hung on a 40-foot self-climbing structure that sits in front of the bandshell with five electrics upstage/downstage and two side electrics on motors to adjust the height and angle based on the production’s needs. In addition, a large number of fixtures are used for backlighting and to light an upstage cyc backdrop.
“With the fixtures behind the cyc and the deck units, we can get a lot of different looks on that backdrop. Lighting the backdrop with shape, color and movement is visually the whole show rather than just lighting the band,” said Grant. “This is the first year I am using Proteus Maximus and it has been a really cool discovery to find what these fixtures can do in that kind of setting.”
The cyc itself is made from rear projection screen material to accommodate video. The video package provided by PRG includes two Panasonic PT-RZ31K projectors - which are super-bright (31,000 lumens) laser projectors designed for use in large venues, one Blackmagic Design ATEM Production Studio 4K Live Switcher and a Playback Pro. PRG also provided a video crew including a project manager, projectionist, playback operator and an EIC (engineer in charge).
“Summer for the City is a really exciting project and we are proud to have been a part of something so significant and uplifting for the residents of New York City,” said Harris.