New Project Transforms 81st Subway Station Space into ‘Sound Booth’

art on the ave mta Sound Booth

A vacant store in the 81st Street subway station has received a drastic makeover and will open as ‘Sound Booth,’ a new creative installation from the non-profit organization Art on the Ave NYC. The space has been transformed into a music box designed to attract local buskers and encourage them to perform for commuters, students, tourists, and any lucky passers-by.

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The soft launch and first performance was on Sunday at 1 p.m., with Barbadian jazz violinist Mylez Gittens performing. A complete program of events will be released soon, but community members can look forward to themed performances such as Classical Wednesday, Thursday Jazz, Beatles Era Friday, Weekend Hip Hop with DJ Chris, and Amateur Night.

Born on the Upper West Side, Art on the Ave NYC is a non-profit community-based organization founded by school teachers in the summer of 2020. Using both vacant storefronts and space within existing businesses, the group creates unique art and creative exhibitions for the local community to enjoy. Their mission is to showcase the work of local artists and revitalize unused spaces in neighborhoods. Upper West Siders may remember the Art on the Ave installation that occupied 338 Columbus Avenue back in spring 2022 before Pop Up Bagels took possession.

The ‘Sound Booth’ installation is part of the larger MTA Storefront Activation project, an initiative intended to “fill 30 vacant former retail spaces in the subway system with creative non-traditional ideas.” This MTA project is encouraging “visually appealing and dynamic alternatives” to make subway stations more vibrant and enriching for community members. The MTA is offering the subway units rent-free and looking for potential occupants who can commit to short-term licenses, from month-to-month up to one year.

art on the ave 81st street subway

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Art on the Ave NYC is thrilled to launch this innovative project in the same neighborhood where they were founded (the original ‘Ave’ in their name was Columbus Ave!). We spoke with Barbara Anderson, of of Art on the Ave NYC’s founders, who expressed the organization’s gratitude to “the Columbus Avenue BID’s unwavering support” which made this project possible. The Columbus Avenue Business Improvement District is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the vibrancy of the Upper West Side for its community, businesses and visitors.

Art on the Ave NYC is looking for support from local businesses to sponsor future music events at the Sound Booth. For more information, email info@artontheavenyc.com or visit the Art on the Ave NYC website.


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  1. Stanley Schnier June 17, 2024
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