Choreographer Miguel Gutierrez is one of 50 artists donating to the platform.

Paula Lobo, Courtesy Gutierrez

50 NYC Artists Are Teaming Up to Help Their Peers Living Below the Poverty Line

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on artists. It's not just performances that have disappeared, but also the survival jobs that many rely on to pay their rent. And for independent artists and freelancers, unemployment benefits aren't an option.

Just about everyone is hurting. But at the same time, many are also asking, How can I help?

Fifty New York City artists have come up with one answer. To help those facing the biggest hurdles, they've launched a grassroots subscription video platform called The Trickle Up (A NYC Artists Network). Each artist has pledged to donate three original videos for the platform, with new content updated monthly.


The list of contributors includes choreographers like Miguel Gutierrez, Faye Driscoll, Adrienne Truscott and Annie-B Parson, performers like André De Shields and Ty Defoe, playwrights like Lynn Nottage and Paula Vogel, theater maker Taylor Mac, director Lear deBessonet and puppeteer Basil Twist.

The intimate DIY videos are mainly filmed on the artists' smartphones. They range from performances of new dances, songs and monologues to readings of sections that were cut from plays. Annie-B Parson has already contributed a poem and video of herself drawing.

Taylor Mac said in a press release, "The Trickle Up is a network where you would see stuff you would never otherwise get to see. When else are you going to see the playwright read their entire play?"

The site launched yesterday, offering subscriptions at $10 a month. The goal is to gain 10,000 subscribers in order to donate $10,000 to 10 artists living below the poverty line every month. And if they get even more subscribers, more artists will receive help. The group is also accepting direct donations via PayPal, and offers the option to buy gift cards.

Any artist who donates to the site—there are currently 50 contributors, though an expansion is likely—will have a say in the recipients of each $10,000 grant.

Organizers hope to keep the platform going throughout this crisis and after it passes, because we all know that even when our theaters are no longer dark, there will still be artists who need the help.

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Not all dance renditions of similar warhorse scores have worked out so well. Yet the irresistible siren song of pieces like Stravinsky's The Firebird and The Rite of Spring, as well as the perennial Carmina Burana by Carl Orff, seem too magnetic for choreographers to ignore.

And there are reasons for their popularity. Some were commissioned specifically for dance: Rite and Firebird for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes; Boléro for dance diva Ida Rubinstein's post–Ballets Russes troupe. Hypnotic rhythms (Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel) and danceable melodies (Bizet's Carmen) make a case for physical eye candy. Audience familiarity can also help box office receipts. Still, many choreographers have been sabotaged by the formidable nature and Muzak-y overuse of these iconic compositions.

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