The Broadway Mall Association (BMA), the nonprofit group that stewards, advocates and cares for the five mile long stretch of green parkland that runs along Broadway from 70th to 168th Street, is hosting a free virtual gala on Thursday, June 3 from 6:30-7:15pm. The event will honor the dedicated volunteers who support BMA’s work and whose commitment has helped Upper West Side, West Harlem, Morningside and Washington Heights communities weather the pandemic by providing an invaluable green space for refuge and respite from the pressures of the past year.
The event will feature a performance by Grammy Award-winning pianist Emanuel Ax, and an appearance by iconic musician and activist Cyndi Lauper. Both are Upper West Side residents and supporters of BMA’s work. Artist Jon Isherwood, whose sculpture exhibition, Broadway Blooms: Jon Isherwood on Broadway, will soon be installed as part of their public art programming, will also join the lineup.
Honoring volunteers is particularly timely now, as their work has been crucial to the welfare of public spaces across the city. Last year, the NYC Parks Department suffered a historic budget cut, just as New Yorkers were relying on open spaces more than ever. BMA enacted their volunteer program last summer to compensate for the reduction in maintenance due to the cut, as the malls and other green spaces across the city saw a surge in usage. In a year when the kindness and resiliency of New Yorkers has been on full display, BMA hopes that recognizing the work of volunteers is something that resonates across the city.
In addition to the special guests, attendees will hear from the volunteers themselves, as well as local residents and artists about what the Broadway Malls mean to them and their vital role in the vibrancy and wellbeing of the surrounding neighborhoods.
“I’m a BMA supporter because I am grateful for the great work that they do for our city. I’m very excited to be a part of their gala and for the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to the volunteers. It feels so good to see our community come together to keep New York City a clean and healthy place to live during this difficult time,” said Cyndi Lauper, singer, songwriter, musician and activist.
“After years spent working with parks groups across the city I know how indispensable volunteers are, and seeing them come together to support this community gave us all immense hope,” said Emily Walker, executive director of BMA. “With so many exciting things on the horizon for the organization, including our upcoming public art exhibition and our restoration and management plan which will make the malls more sustainable and the surrounding neighborhoods healthier, we have much to look forward to. All New Yorkers deserve quality open space regardless of income or zip code, and with our volunteers and supporters we can continue doing our part to ensure park equity for the numerous diverse neighborhoods we serve. I am delighted to join the 2021 virtual gala in my new role with BMA, and I thank all the supporters who make it possible.”
“One thing I’ve always been impressed by is how the Broadway Malls provide a central bloom to the neighborhood, as flowers and greenery are what keep a city alive. I am very grateful to BMA for hosting my artwork later this year, and for having me at their gala. I believe that art is a gift, as are green spaces like the Malls. My sculptures will be a gesture to those who see them as we reflect on the past 18 months, and I am happy that I can join BMA to both recognize the struggles we’ve gone through this past year and also look forward to brighter days ahead,” said artist and sculptor Jon Isherwood.
All attendees who RSVP for the event will be automatically entered into a raffle to win dinners for two at local restaurants. Those who donate $25 or more will be entered to win other prizes including Cyndi Lauper merchandise.
To RSVP, email Gala2021@broadwaymall.org.
To learn more about the Broadway Mall Association, visit broadwaymall.