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Arts on a Highwire City of Inspiration

"Arts on the Highwire" was a special benefit concert organized by the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and held at Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom on January 11, 2002. All proceeds from the evening went to the New York Arts Recovery Fund, an initiative to help city artists who have suffered as a result of September 11. The NYFA, along with the artists, engineers, and technicians who donated their time and equipment to this event, have played an important role in helping the arts community recover from the financial and emotional devastation brought about by the recent tragedy. They have also called attention to the renewed importance of arts in the city.

The performers who participated in the event include musicians Laurie Anderson , Suzanne Vega , the X-ecutioners, and Don Byron; writers Paul Auster, Jim Carroll, Roy Blount Jr., Fran Leibowitz, Frank Rich, and Sharon Olds; the painter Chuck Close; photographer Bruce Davidson; illustrators Jules Feiffer , Art Spiegelman, and Ben Katchor; monologist Spalding Gray; the composers John Zorn, Joe Jackson; choreographer Elizabeth Streb; and the performance artist Bill Irwin.

Among the featured performers was Philippe Petit, the French aerialist famous for crossing from one World Trade Center tower to the other on a tightrope in 1974. Petit commemorated his historic feat by walking the highwire once again, this time across the Hammerstein Ballroom. But as the daredevil performer was the first to point out, the title of the evening, "Arts on the Highwire," referred to more than just his legendary stroll: "It is meant to suggest that the arts have been shaken since the disaster and are existing without a safety net."

To learn more about the New York Foundation of the Arts, or to make a donation to the New York Arts Recovery Fund, please visit the NYFA Web site.

To find out more about Philippe Petit's famous walk between the Twin Towers, read a recent story published in the LOS ANGELES TIMES.

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