New Victory Blog

The New Victory Blog is a place to learn more about New York's theater for families and the shows we produce. Find out what we do and what we're passionate about—exploring the arts as a family.

Wrapping up our celebration of the New Vic's new, vibrant lobby spaces, we sat down with our Executive Vice President, Lisa Post. She shares with us the past, present and future of our lobby spaces!
Lisa Post
The mission of The New 42nd Street is to make "extraordinary performing arts and cultural engagement part of everyone's life" through our work at The New Victory Theater, The Duke on 42nd Street theater, The New 42nd Street Studios and through our partnership with New York City and New York State in the transformation of this historic bxlock. At the New Victory we are certainly fulfilling the "extraordinary performing arts" part of the mission, having now brought amazing shows and incredible artists from around the world to The New Victory stage for more than two decades.  As for the "cultural engagement" part—at least in terms of the public—our engagement has been limited to family workshops and the modest activities we could manage in lobbies designed twenty-two years ago.

Ever wonder why our lobbies are below ground? When we first opened The New Victory Theater, we had to create a lobby space that wasn't there before! In the original structure built by Oscar Hammerstein I, the seats went nearly to the street so we shortened the orchestra depth to create a street level lobby and box office, and dug down below to create more space. At the time of the 1995 renovation, the idea of a theater for families and kids on 42nd Street was untested, so a decision was made to keep this space generic and not tailored for any age. For so long, our lobbies have been bland, uninformed and disconnected from the spirit and vibrancy of the work presented on stage. 

Ribbon Cutting

So, in 2015, when we decided that a renovation was in order, we also decided that remodeling couldn't just be about carpets and paint and water-saving bathroom fixtures. Renovating the New Victory lobbies had to, for us, be a reinvention, something that would extend and a deepen our mission now that the New Vic has been established as an essential part of New York City's cultural fabric. We wanted the new lobbies to not just house our patrons, but to delight and excite them. These spaces couldn't just be serviceable, they had to sing like the artists on the stage. So, while we did install those water-saving fixtures, we also worked with our architects and consultants to create an environment that encourages families to engage with the work on the New Victory stage. (In case you missed it, read Lindsey's blog about the thought behind our arts engagement activities!)

New Lobby

We're so glad to see the lobby working the way we hoped it would. As with any planning process, especially over a two-year period, we had some anxiety that all the decisions we made were in an echo chamber. The looming question was...will this work? has! It's been such a joy to see kids and families use the space in the way we hoped, eating and relaxing in our space and generally having a great time. 

LuEsther's Lobby and Jack & Lew's Lobby are spaces where families can joyfully interact with each other—play together, eat together and talk to each other—but also meet other families, too. Our goal has been to make every part of coming to see a show at The New Victory an opportunity to engage and participate in both creativity and community—to make The New Victory feel like every family's cultural home. Here's looking to the future and all that is possible!

Bromance Thumb In Bromance, the astonishing talent of these three mates from London will make a hopeless bromantic out of you. Get your tickets today!

Posted by Beth Henderson

There is a whole team of New Vic people who are working hard to craft interactive and creative experiences for you and your family each and every time you come to The New Victory Theater. It is our goal that these activities become a part of how you experience the arts with your family.
To develop and design these activities, we use a set of guiding principles to keep our work impactful, exciting and forward-thinking. These pillars guide all the content we create for students, teachers and families across all our arts education initiatives, and like the artistic programming on the New Victory stage, we want every activity, and hence every visit to The New Victory, to feel unique!

Arts for All—We always consider varying accessibility levels to ensure that everyone in a family group is invited to engage with the arts and themes of the production. We strive to create opportunities that feel fun and exciting regardless of whether you are 5 or 95, whether language or physical ability might be an obstacle, or whether you are a regular theatergoer or attending the theater for the first time. We want to show that the arts can and should be for everyone.

The New Lobby!

Art Form—We want to give your family the chance to learn a basic skill from what you will see on stage. If you are going to see a puppet show we want you to learn more about puppetry, but if you are going to see a circus show we might create a juggling or acrobatic activity. Additionally, we think it's important for families to see experts in an art form and understand what true mastery might look like. Not only is this experience inspirational, but it also identifies something for families to strive for together. 
Create—In every activity, participants should discover their own artistry. We create situations where you can make creative choices both as individuals and as families. When you visit the lobby to try an arts activity, we hope that you will participate as artists and creative decision makers!
Play—Without a feeling of playfulness, families won't take the risks needed to participate in the arts. There is so much research about how important it is to play, for both adults and kids! When we think of creating a place to play, we don't always mean being silly—play can look like a lot of different things—but the important thing is that it offers families a chance to interact together with joy.
Discover—Our shows come from around the world and delve into topics as diverse as Malcolm X to the history of clowning to the physics of acrobatics! We hope that through the arts and through arts engagement, families learn something new but also discover more about themselves, about a family member or about the world. 
Community—We want you to feel part of the New Vic community even before you arrive at the theater (that's why we create Family Activities you can do before the show at your own home) and, of course, we want you to feel that way from the moment you walk in our doors! We also hope that our activities strengthens the bonds within a family, but also the bonds that people feel towards the places where they live or towards the community of people they exist within. Our activities ask participants to work together so that they have the tools to share and build relationships with others. 

We created these pillars years ago and defined them based on our experiences in working with schools, kids and families. We made observations about what worked best and why. Since then, we've found research that supports what we knew in our gut, and helps explain why our audiences are benefiting from these activities
  • There was a groundbreaking study with adult audiences by WolfBrown, a research firm with whom we are partnering with on our own research project. In Assessing the Intrinsic Impacts of a Live Performance, WolfBrown learned many things about the kinds of impacts people experience when seeing show. One of the biggest takeaways was: the higher a theatergoer's anticipation and knowledge about a show directly affects the impact of that performance. In other words, if you and your family are excited to see the show and you know a little more about it (the art form, the artists, etc.) then the more likely you are to have a transformative experience watching it! 
  • Harvard's Project Zero released some research called Qualities Of Quality: Understanding Excellence in Arts Education. The whole focus of this study was to categorize the ingredients of an arts education experience that make it high quality.  There are many gems in this study, but one that always stuck with me (and is very relevant to our new lobby) is that one of the main things that creates a quality experience is having a SPACE that is suited to the kind of work you want to do. It is so amazing to work in a new lobby that is specifically created to support engagement work.
  • Just a month ago, La Placa Cohen released their newest Culture Track survey about audience behavior and the shifts in how audiences experience culture. One of the interesting discoveries is that modern audiences rate "having fun" as their number one priority. This directly ties into our pillar of "Play!" We believe that the new lobby helps amp up the fun experience ANYTIME you come to The New VIctory Theater. Also, according to Culture Track, audiences now desire an "omnivore" experience, or an experience that is multi-faceted—both reflective and social, interactive and calming, etc. As stated in the study, "For activities like dance, theater, classical music, and museum-going, over 80% of people motivated to attend to connect to their community are also motivated by the chance to feel transported to another place. Audiences don't want to either engage with issues or escape them: they want both."
All of this is to say that we've created a place that will help and encourage you to create and participate in an active, social experience. We hope that the arts activities in our new lobbies will directly amplify the transformative experience of watching a performance. To us, that makes the biggest impact of all!
Posted by Beth Henderson
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