Metrofocus: July 21, 2022

Earlier this week, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg dropped all charges against Jose Alba – the Harlem bodega worker who fatally stabbed a man, Austin Simon, who attacked him behind the counter where he worked.  D.A. Bragg initially charged Jose Alba with second-degree murder, a move that sparked outrage from a community that believed he had acted in self-defense.  Critics on both sides of the aisle came out in support of the bodega worker, including New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and the case made national headlines.  After a review, the district attorney’s office concluded that a homicide case against Mr. Alba could not be proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt, and Mayor Adams praised the District Attorney’s decision.  But the incident raises larger questions around self-defense, and the situations faced by bodega workers on a daily basis amid rising crime.  Fernando Mateo, co-founder and spokesperson for United Bodegas of America – a group that advocates on behalf of bodega owners, says:  “We want to make sure every bodega owner in New York City that is law-abiding, that feels the necessity to carry a licensed gun, to go and apply for it.  Why?  Because you need to be able to defend yourself.”  Mr. Mateo joins us tonight to discuss the issue, along with the organization’s co-founder and president Radhames Rodriguez.

The performing arts are continuing their comeback from Covid and at Lincoln Center, New Yorkers are being invited to take part in “Summer for the City.” The monthslong dance and music festival is part of a push to have the nation’s largest complex for the performing arts better reflect New York, an effort being led in part by its groundbreaking Chief Artistic Officer Shanta Thake. Thake started her role last year, a seismic move that placed a woman of color in the highest ranks of the city’s cultural establishment, and she joins us to discuss the festival and her long term vision for Lincoln Center.

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT, AS PROSECUTORS DROP CHARGES AGAINST THE BODEGA WORKER WHO STABBED A MAN WHO ATTACKED HIM, AN ADVOCACY GROUP CALL FOR STRONGER PROTECTIONS.

AND MEET LINCOLN CENTER'S GROUND BREAKING CHIEF OFFICER WHO'S REIMAGINING THE ICONIC VENUE.

'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

♪♪

> THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL PI ROMAN, JACK FORD AND JENNA FLANAGAN.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

> GOOD EVENING, AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

EARLIER THIS WEEK, THE MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY DROPPED ALL CHARGES AGAINST JOSE ALBA, THE WORKER WHO FATALLY STABBED A MAN WHO WORK HIM BEHIND THE COUNTER WHERE HE WORK.

THE D.A. INITIALLY CHARGED HIM WITH MURDER, WHICH SPARKEDOUT RAGE FROM A COMMUNITY WHO BELIEVED HE WORK IN THE SELF-DEFENSE.

PEOPLE CAME OUT IN SUPPORT, INCLUDING MAYOR ERIC ADAMS.

AFTER A REVIEW, THE OFFICE CONSIDER CONCLUDED A HOMICIDE CASE AGAINST ALBA WOULD NOT BE PROVEN BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT AND MAYOR ADAMS APPROVED THE D.A.'S DECISION.

IT RAISES LARGER QUESTIONS AROUND SELF-DEFENSE AND THE SITUATION FACING BODEGA WORKERS.

JOINING US NOW TO TALK ABOUT THE JOSE ALBA CASE ARE FERNANDO MATEO AND -- COFOUNDERS OF THE -- WHICH HAS STRONGLY SUPPORTED MR. ALBA THROUGHOUT HIS ORDEAL.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

FERNANDO, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

HONOR TO BE HERE WITH YOU.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

THE FIRST QUESTION TO YOU -- BEFORE WE GET INTO THE JOSE ALBA'S CASE BE THE DANGEROUS CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH BODEGA WORKERS HAVE TO WORK GIVEN THE CRIME, LET'S TALK ABOUT JOSE ALBA HIMSELF.

HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO SPEAK WITH HIM OR HIS FAMILY SINCE THE D.A. DROPPED THE CHARGES?

DO YOU KNOW HOW HE'S DOING?

AFTER HE LEFT REICHER'S ISLAND, HE LOOKED LIKE A BROKEN MAN, STRICT WITHIN GRIEF AND SADNESS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

JOSE ALBA, WE WERE TRYING AFTER THAT HAPPENED TO REACH OUT WITH THEM, BUT WE NEVER GOT THE OPPORTUNITY TO TALK TO HIM.

WE WENT TO THE STORE, BUT, YOU KNOW -- BECAUSE WE ARE PROTECTING AND WE WILL ALWAYS BE WHEN ANYTHING HAPPEN IN THE STORE, SO WE WILL ALWAYS BE THERE, NO MATTER IF HE IS PART OF OUR MEMBERS OR HE'S NOT TALKING TO US, BECAUSE WE'RE ALWAYS GOING TO DO WHAT WE HAVE TO DO.

BECAUSE OUR ORGANIZATION IS WHAT WE DO, PROTECT THE MEMBERS AND PROTECT ALL THE BODEGA OWNERS IN NEW YORK.

IT'S A BIG TASK NOWADAYS.

FERNANDO, YOU HAVE BEEN COMPLIMENTARY OF THE D.A., D.A.

BRAGG FOR HIS DECISION TO DROP ALL CHARGES, BUT DID IT SURPRISE YOU AT THE OUTSET THAT A D.A.

WHO CAMPAIGNED FOR OFFICE ON THE PLATFORM OF DECARS RATION, THAT IS TAKING PEOPLE OUT OF JAIL AND TRYING TO PREVENT PEOPLE FROM GOING INTO JAIL AND WHO CLEARLY BELIEVES CASH BAIL OR MOST CASH BAILS IS WHAT THEY CALL CRIMINALIZING POVERTY, ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT A D.A. LIKE THAT CHARGED MR. ALBA WHAT MURDER, SENT HIM TO RIKERS AND THEN INITIALLY DEMANDED A $500,000 BAIL FOR HIM?

DID THAT SURPRISE YOU?

DID IT SEEM CONTRADICTORY?

IT DIDN'T SURPRISE ME AT ALL.

THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF NEW YORK HAS A DUTY TO PROTECT EVERY NEW YORKER.

IN THIS CASE, THERE WAS A DEAD MAN, AND UNTIL YOU CAN SORT OUT WHAT HAPPENED, SOMEONE IS PROBABLY GOING TO BE DETAINED.

I BELIEVE THAT D.A. BRAGG BELIEVED HE WAS DOING THE RIGHT THING.

HE MADE A MISTAKE.

HE CORRECTED IT.

AND HE HIT A GRAND SLAM WHEN HE DROPPED THE CHARGES.

WE DEALT WITH HIM, AND HE SEEMED TO BE A VERY WARM, CORDIAL KIND OF GUY, WILLING TO LISTEN, WILLING TO UNDERSTAND THE ACTIONS THAT TOOK PLACE.

AND AS WE SAID TO HIM, THE JUDGE IN THIS CASE AND THE JURY IN THIS CASE ARE THE VIDEO TAPES.

THE VIDEO TAPES ARE REALLY WHAT'S GOING TO DETERMINE YOUR DECISION.

SO I ASKED HIM, WOULD YOU EXONERATE JOSE AL WHAT?

HE SAID, AFTER MY INVESTIGATION, IF IT CALLS FOR IT, YES,LY.

SO WE LEFT THAT MEETING WITH A VERY GOOD SENSE OF SECURITY THAT HE WAS GOING TO DROP THE CHARGES.

DID HE DO HIS JOB IN YES HERK DID.

DID HE DO IT WELL?

MAYBE COULD HAVE DONE IT BETTER.

WE'RE NOT GOING TO SECOND-GUESS HIM.

HE HAS A TOUGH JOB.

HE HIT THE BALL OUT OF THE PARK.

HE SENT THE MESSAGE TO CRIMINALS AND LET THEM KNOW HE'S GOING TO PROTECT VICTIMS WHEN THEY ARE ATTACKED AND IN THIS CASE, JOSE ALBA WAS BASICALLY DEFENDING HIMSELF.

YEAH, SURE.

FROM VERY EARLY ON, THERE WERE A LOT OF ELECTED OFFICIAL WHO IS SUPPORTED MR. ALBA, AND AS I SAID, MAYOR ADAMS WAS ONE OF THEM, AS WAS A GROUP OF BIPARTISAN CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, CONSERVATIVE AND MODERATE CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS, BUT WHAT ABOUT THE PROGRESSIVE ELECTED OFFICIALS, MOST SOERTED WITH CRIMINAL REFORM, WITH CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM?

ELECTED OFFICIALS LIKE CITY KROFRP TROLLER BRAD LANDER, TIFFANY KA BONN, STATE SENATOR BIAGI, AND YEW LIN LEW WHO HAVE BEEN STRONG ADVOCATE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND NO BAIL.

DID THEY SPEAK UP?

DID YOU FIND THEY SPOKE UP ON BEHALF OF MR. ALBA?

CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IS IN ESSENCE FOR THOSE THAT BELIEVE THOSE THAT CAN'T AFFORD TO GET OUT OF JOIL SHOULD GET OUT OF JAIL.

WHEN YOU GO OUT TO KILL SOMEONE YOU SHOULDN'T FALL UNDER THAT CATEGORY.

I THINK NOT ONLY NEW YORK CITY, BUT NEW YORK STATE AND THE ENTIRE COUNTRY SAW THAT JOSE ALBA WAS AN INNOCENT MAN.

I DON'T THINK THE COUNCIL MEMBERS, PROGRESSIVE OR NOT PROGRESSIVE WOULD SEE IT DIFFERENTLY.

WE'RE ALL HUMAN, WE HAVE SENSE, WE HAVE EYES, EARS.

WE ALL SAW WHAT HAPPENED.

HOW ARE WE GOING TO CONTRADICT THE VIDEO?

THE VIDEO SPOKE FOR ITSELF.

WE THANK MAYOR ERIC ADAMS.

HE CAME OUT EARLY ON AND SUPPORTED HARD WORKING NEW YORKERS.

HE SUPPORTED JOSE ALBA, AND KUDOS TO OUR MAYOR.

WHAT WE NEED TO DO NOW AS SMALL BUSINESS PEOPLE IS SUPPORT THE MAYOR, HELP HIM GET RID OF CRIME.

HE'S NOT GOING TO DO IT ALONE.

WE NEEDS ALL OF US INVOLVED, AND THAT'S WHAT THE UNITED BODEGAS OF AMERICA WITH THE LEADERSHIP WITH RAMOS WITH OUR PRESIDENT IS GOING TO ACHIEVE.

LET'S TURN TO THAT.

BLESSEDLY, MR. ALBA'S CHARGES HAVE BEEN DROPPED BECAUSE, AS FERNANDO SAYS, THE EVIDENCE SEEMED THAT'S WHAT NEEDED TO HAPPEN.

BUT THE SITUATION REMAINS DANGEROUS FOR BODEGA OWNERS AND WORKERS.

TELL US WHAT THE SITUATION ACTUALLY IS TODAY FOR THESE BODEGA WORKERS.

HOW DANGEROUS IS IT?

AND HOW MUCH MORE DANGEROUS HAS IT BECOME SINCE CRIME SPIKED OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS?

THE CASE WITH JOSE ALBA IS CLOSED, RAPIDLY, BECAUSE HE IS HAPPY HE'S IN THE HOUSE.

THE PROBLEM IS WHAT WE'RE GOING TO DO NOW WITH ALL THE BODEGAS, BECAUSE WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS A LONG TIME AGO.

IT'S CRAZY THAT THINGS LIKE THAT HAVE TO HAPPEN, BUT WE'RE NOT GOING TO STOP BECAUSE JOSE ALBA IS OUT OF JAIL AND HE'S -- HE'S NOT A -- HAVE NOT THAT KIND OF PROBLEM.

THE PROBLEM IS, WHO IS IN -- STILL IN THE BUSINESS?

WE HAVE TO WORK WITH THAT WITH OLD POLITICALS AND, LIKE, FERNANDO MATEO SAY, MAYOR ADAMS AND GOVERNMENT AND EVERYBODY.

WE NEED TO GET IT TOGETHER AND WAIT FOR BETTER SAFETY, FOR BETTER -- TO HAVE THE BODEGAS TO WORK MORE WITHOUT THOSE PROBLEMS.

YEAH, YEAH, SURE, SO FERNANDO -- IF I COULD JUST GO TO FERNANDO, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STEPS THAT YOU NOW INTEND TO TAKE TO MAKE SURE THAT THE SAFETY OF THE WORKING CONDITIONS --

LET'S FACE IT -- EVERY BODEGA OWNER NEEDS TO KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THAT IF THIS VIDEO DID NOT EXIST, JOSE ALBA'S LIFE WOULD HAVE BEEN OVER.

HE WOULD HAVE DIE IN THE JAIL AN OLD MAN.

EVERY BODEGA NEEDS TO HAVE VERY GOOD HIGH TECH CAMERAS, BECAUSE THAT'S THE EVIDENCE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO HAVE TO FIGHT OR DEFEND THEMSELVES FROM ANY ACCUSATIONS, OKAY?

SO, WE'RE GOING TO MAKE SURE THAT BODEGA OWNERS HAVE THE EQUIPMENT THEY NEED.

WE WILL MAKE SURE THAT EVERY BODEGA OWNER IN NEW YORK CITY HAS THE TOOLS THAT THEY NEED TO KEEP SAFE.

LISTEN, BODEGA OWNERS -- BODEGAS ARE OWNED BY FAMILY -- HUSBAND, WIFE, AND CHILDREN.

THEY ARE THE ONE WHO IS RUN THESE BUSINESSES.

IF YOU SEE YOUR SON BEING ASSAULTED, YOU'RE GOING TO WANT TO GIVE UP YOUR LIFE TO SAVE YOUR SON.

LET'S FACE IT.

WE NEED TO DISTRICT ATTORNEYS TO UNDERSTAND WE GET LOOTED, SHOPLIFTED, ROBBED, ASSAULTED, AND WE GET MURDERED EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR, SO WE NEED THE SUPPORT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT.

WHEN A POLICE OFFICER MAKES A ARREST, THEY SHOULD PROSECUTE IF THE MERITS ARE THERE.

HOW DO WE KNOW THE MERITS ARE THERE?

WE CAN SHOW ON CAMERA WHAT THE CRIMINAL -- WHAT CRIME THAT CRIMINAL COMMITTED.

SO JOSE -- RAFAEL, RIGHT NOW OUR GOAL IS TO MAKE SURE WHAT HAPPENED TO JOSE ALBA DOES NOT HAPPEN THE ANY OTHER BODEGA OWNER AGAIN, AND IF IT DOES HAPPEN, THAT WE HAVE THE VIDEO TAPE TO SHOW THAT THAT BODEGA OWNER WASN'T OUT TO HURT ANYONE.

FERNANDO, YOU'RE ALSO CALLING -- WRONG -- YOU'RE ALSO CALLING FOR THE D.A.s TO MAKE USE OF THE RECENT DECISION BY THE SUPREME COURT OF CARRYING WEAPONS TO ALLOW BODEGA OWNERS AND BODEGA WORKERS TO BE ARMED.

IS THAT RIGHT?

YOU BRING UP A GREAT POINT HERE -- D.A. BRAGG EXPLAINED TO US THAT HE HAD PROBABLY 30,000 CASES INVOLVING ILLEGAL GUNS THAT HE IS PROSECUTING.

AND I ASKED HIM, HOW MANY OF THOSE 30,000 CASES ARE FROM A LEGAL GUN OWNER?

OKAY, SOMEONE THAT LEGALLY HAS A CARRY PERMIT, A GUN PERMIT.

AND HE SAID ZERO.

SO THE DANGER ISN'T WITH PEOPLE THAT APPLY FOR A WEAPON AND WHO'S A LAW-ABIDING CITIZEN.

THE PROBLEM THAT WE HAVE HERE IS THAT ALL THE CRIMINALS ARE ARMED AND ALL THE INNOCENT VICTIMS ARE NOT ARMED.

SO WE HAVE AN UNBALANCE IN THIS SITUATION.

IF BODEGA OWNERS CHOOSE TO CARRY A WEAPON, THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO.

IT'S OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT.

THE SUPREME COURT HAS WITHHELD IT -- HAS SAID IT'S ILLEGAL FOR NEW YORK TO DO WHAT THEY HAVE DONE.

BUT THERE ARE BODEGA OWNERS WHO DON'T WANT A GUN.

IF YOU BELIEVE YOU SHOULD NEED IT, YOU SHOULD GET IT.

MORE THAN THE INDIVIDUAL BODEGA OWNERS, THE AMERICAN MERCHANTS ASSOCIATION THAT PARTNERED WITH YOU, VISITED THE D.A. WITH YOU, ASKED FOR THE CHARGES TO BE DROPPED WITH YOU TO D.A. BRAGG PUBLICLY SPLIT WITH YOU ON THIS.

THEY SAY, NO, NO MORE GUNS.

MORE GUNS IN THE HAND OF WHOEVER, EVEN BODEGA OWNERS, JUST CREATE THE POSSIBILITY FOR MORE VIOLENCE IN BODEGAS AND THE CITIES.

WHERE ARE THEY WRONG?

I THINK THEY'RE WRONG BECAUSE ANYONE THAT'S LAW-ABIDING THAT HAS A BUSINESS TO PROTECT, THAT HAS HIS FAMILY TO PROTECT AND IS SERVING A COMMUNITY WITH VERY HIGH CRIME, SHOOTING RATE, THAT BODEGA OWNER SHOULD BE, IF HE CHOOSES TO, BE ALLOWED TO APPLY FOR A GUN, BE WELL TRAINED TO USE THAT GUN, IF HE HAS TO.

WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, HAVING COWBOYS OUT THERE.

WE'RE NOT THE ONES THAT YOU NEED TO WORRY ABOUT.

WE NEED TO WORRY ABOUT THOSE THAT ARE OUT THERE KILLING PEOPLE.

LISTEN, JUNIOR GUZMAN WAS KILL IN THE A BODEGA BECAUSE THAT BODEGA OWNER DID NOT HAVE TO TOOLS TO PROTECT THAT YOUNG BOY THAT WAS KILLED BY A MOB OF CRIMINALS.

HE WAS A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS ATTACKED BY A GROUP, STABBED TO DEATH IN THE BODEGA.

HE WAS STABBED TO DEATH.

IF THAT BODEGA OWNER HAD A GUN PERMIT HE COULD HAVE STOPPED THE DEATH OF JUNIOR GUZMAN SOME THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, COMMON SENSE.

ALL RIGHT, WELL, WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO END IT THERE BECAUSE WE'RE OUT OF TIME, BUT SO MUCH FOR COMING ON TODAY AND SO MUCH FOR THE WORK YOU DO FOR THE COMMUNITY EVERY DAY.

THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

THANK YOU.

♪♪

> WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL PI ROMAN.

THE PERFORMING ARTS ARE CONTINUING THEIR COMEBACK FROM COVID, AND AT LINCOLN CENTER, NEW YORKERS ARE BEING INVITED TO TAKE PART IN SUMMER FOR THE CITY.

THE SUMMER LONG FESTIVAL IS AIMED AT HELPING US RECOVER FROM THE PANDEMIC WITH A MIX OF OLD AND NEW, FROM THE MOSTLY MOZART FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA TO DANCE PARTIES UNDER A GIANT DISCO BALL IN ICONIC LINCOLN CENTER PLAZA.

A PUSH TO HAVE THE LARGEST CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS BET REREFLECT NEW YORK, AN EFFORT OFFICER.

SHE STARTED HER NEW JOB LAST YEAR, A GROUND BREAKING MOVE THAT PLACED A WOMAN IN THE HIGHEST RANKS OF THE CITY'S CULTURAL ESTABLISHMENT AND SHE JOINS US NOW.

WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

HONOR TO HAVE YOU HERE WITH US.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME.

FIRST OF ALL, LIKE SO MANY BEFORE YOU, YOU CAME TO NEW YORK, NEW YORK CITY TO BECOME AN ACTOR.

UNLIKE ANY BEFORE YOU, YOU ARE NOW THE CHIEF ARTISTIC OFFICER OF LINCOLN CENTER, ONE OF THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS JOBS AT THE MOST PRESTIGIOUS CENTER FOR PERFORMING ARTS IN THE COUNTRY AND ARGUABLY THE WORLD.

HOW DID YOU GET FROM THERE TO HERE?

WELL, YOU KNOW, IT WAS QUITE A JOURNEY.

I WOULD SAY IT'S BEEN A LOT OF FUN ALONG THE WAY, BUT I HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE OF, ONE, GROWING UP IN A FAMILY THAT HAD ARTS AT THE CENTER OF ALL WE DID.

MANY DANCERS AND ARTISTS IN MY FAMILY.

MY GRANDFATHER WAS A VIOLINIST IN HIS LOCAL SYMPHONY.

MY GRANDMOTHER WAS A CLASSICAL INDIAN SINGER.

IT WAS ENCOURAGED INDIVIDUAL RISED AND -- THAT WAS IMPORTANT TO ME.

I FOUND MY OWN WAYS THROUGH ACTING BUT LUCKILY ALSO GOT MY MANAGEMENT DEGREE FROM INDIANA UNIVERSITY.

SMART MOVE.

TURNED OUT TO BE MUCH MORE HELPFUL THAN I THOUGHT AT THE TIME.

AND MOVED TO NEW YORK CITY, AND I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO FIND MYSELF AT THE PUBLIC THEATER REALLY EARLY ON IN GEORGE WILLIS' OFFICE AS HIS SECOND STITT.

THAT WAS RIGHT AFTER 9/11, I MOVED IN 2002 TO NEW YORK CITY.

THE ARTS WERE IN UPHEAVAL AS NOW, AND I FOUND MYSELF IN THIS VIBRANT MOMENT.

SCARY, BUT VIBRANT.

I WAS REALLY PART OF THIS CONVERSATION AT THIS INCREDIBLE INSTITUTION THAT WAS DEDICATED TO SERVING THE CITY AND BRINGING ALL OF THESE DIVERSE VOICES INTO THE CENTER OF THE WORK.

SO I HAD A FRONT ROW SEAT TO THAT AND THEN FOUND MYSELF AT JOE'S PUB.

AND LOVED BEING AT JOE'S PUB AND WAS THE DIRECTOR THERE FOR TEN YEARS.

AND THEN HAD A CHANCE TO OVERSEE ALL OF THE PROGRAMS AT THE PUBLIC THEATER.

AND THE PUBLIC IS JUST THIS AMAZING ORGANIZATION REALLY DEDICATED TO NEW YORK CITY AND TO FINDING DIFFERENT WAY OF INTERSECTING WITH AUDIENCES ACROSS THE CITY THROUGH OUR MOBILE SHAKESPEARE UNIT, THROUGH PUBLIC WORKS, WHICH PUTS PEOPLE FROM ALL OVER THE CITY ON STAGE.

AND I THINK ALL OF THAT LED ME TO NOW LINCOLN CERTAINTY, WHERE WE'RE USING A LOT OF THOSE SAME TOOLS, AND WE HAVE SOME OF THOSE SAME QUESTIONS ABOUT, HOW DO WE SERVE THE CITY?

WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO BE A CULTURAL INSTITUTION AT THIS TIME AT A TIME OF GREAT UPHEAVAL?

I'LL ASK ABOUT THAT.

YOU BUT YOU SAY IT'S A TIME OF UPHEAVAL.

YOU TOOK OVER AT A DIFFICULT TIME.

HOW CHALLENGING WAS THAT?

IT'S ACTUALLY BEEN A REALLY BEAUTIFUL TIME AT LINCOLN CENTER, I THINK, ONE, BECAUSE WE ARE TASKED WITH THIS VERY, VERY SPECIFIC NEW VISION, WHICH IS TO SERVE THE CITY TO BECOME THIS GREAT CIVIC CULTURAL INSTITUTION TO REALLY WORK WITH ALL OF THE CONSTITUENT ORGANIZATIONS ON CAMPUS.

WE'RE AMIDST TEN OTHER PERFORMING ARTS ORGANIZATIONS, AND I THINK WE'RE COME OUT OF THIS TIME UNDERSTANDING THE VALUE OF COLLABORATION.

SO I THINK OF MYSELF AS KIND OF THE CHIEF COLLABORATOR AT LINCOLN CENTER, AND MY JOB IS REALLY TO BE IN PARTNERSHIP WITH SO MANY OF THOSE OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.

AND OF COURSE OUR AUDIENCES AND ARTISTS.

IT'S BEEN AMAZING.

SO CHALLENGING, SURE, BUT IT'S ALWAYS CHALLENGING TO WORK IN THE NONPROFIT AREA.

THIS JUST HAPPENS TO BE THE NEW CHALLENGE, AND I THINK IT'S ONE THAT WE'RE UP FOR.

I THINK THERE'S ALSO THIS REALLY EXCITING MOMENT TO BE A PART OF THE CHANGE AND NOT BE PUSHING AGAINST THIS BIG MOMENT OF CHANGE.

LET'S TALK ABOUT THE CHANGE.

LET'S TURN TO SUMMER FOR THE CITY, A VERY AMBITIOUS FESTIVAL THAT BEGAN IN MAY AND WILL GO UNTIL THE MIDDLE OF AUGUST.

NOW, ACCORDING TO 'THE NEW YORK TIMES,' THE FESTIVAL IS, QUOTE, PART OF LINCOLN CENTER'S EFFORT TO RECALIBRATE ITS IMAGE AS AN EXCLUSIVE BASTION OF CLASSICAL MUSIC.

I HAVE BEEN LIVING IN NEW YORK CITY 35 YEARS.

I NEVER THOUGHT OF IT AS BASTION OR CLASSICAL MUSIC.

I THINK IT'S A LITTLE BIT OF THAT, BUT LIKE YOU SAID, LINCOLN CENTER HAS BEEN A HOME TO SO MANY FOR SO LONG.

I THINK TO SAY THAT IT'S BEEN ONE THING IS REALLY A FALLACY.

SO ONE OF THE THINGS WE'RE DOING IS BUILDING ON ALL OF THE GREAT TRADITIONS THAT HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AT LINCOLN CENTER, BUT RESOURCING THOSE DIFFERENTLY AND MAKING SURE WE HAVE A MULTITUDE OF OFFERINGS, NOT JUST IN SUMMER BUT YEAR ROUND.

WE'RE DOING FIVE DAYS A WEEK IN THE ATRIUM FOR THREE.

WE'RE CHANGING OUR INDOOR PROGRAMMING TO DO CHOOSE WHAT YOU PAY TICKETING.

IT'S BEEN REALLY AN EFFORT TO CHANGE THE AUDIENCES AND EXPAND THE AUDIENCES BUT ALSO HOLD ON TO THE AUDIENCES THAT HAVE BEEN COMING AND ALWAYS FELT AT HOME AT LINCOLN CENTER.

AND I THINK ARTISTS HAVE ALWAYS FELT AT HOME AT LINCOLN CENTER.

WE'RE MAKING SURE THEY FEEL AT HOME THROUGHOUT THE YEAR IN ALL SPACES, NOT JUST IN ONE MOMENT OF OUR CALENDAR YEAR.

SO TRADITIONAL PATRONS OF LINCOLN CENTER SHOULDN'T FEAR THAT THE OFFERINGS THEY HAVE BEEN USED TO ARE GOING TO GO AWAY.

NO, I THINK -- I MEAN, WE'RE STILL SITTING AMONGST THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC, THE METROPOLITAN OPERA, CITY BALLET.

THERE'S SO MUCH AS OFFER HERE ON LINCOLN CENTER AND ON CAMPUS.

YOU'RE GOING TO SEE US COLLABORATING WITH ALL OF THOSE ORGANIZATIONS THROW TIME, EVEN IN DEEPER WAYS SOME NO FEAR.

BUT ALSO THERE IS GOING TO BE AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF POPULAR MUSIC, POETRY, JAZZ, EVERYTHING ELSE.

I THINK THERE'S JUST A LOT MORE FOR FOLKS ACROSS THE SUMMER.

I WAS LOOK AT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT SUMMER IN THE CITY HAS ALREADY PRESENTED.

FANTASTIC STUFF.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE THINGS THAT ALREADY HAPPENED, SOME OF THE MOST MEMORABLE UNIQUE THINGS AND PERHAPS SOME OF THE THICKS, IF YOU COULD, THAT ARE STILL TO COME?

WE HAVE HAD SOME AMAZING COLLABORATIONS WITH THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC AND JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER.

JUST KICKED OFF THE FILM SERIES.

WE COUPLE THINGS WE DID IS WEDDINGS FOR PEOPLE WHOSE WETTINGS WERE CANCELED BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC.

IT WAS PERHAPS THE -- I FELT LIKE I GOT REMARYLAND AGAIN.

AND WE HAD ALL THESE COUPLES TELLING THEIR STORY OF THE WEDDING THEY DID ON ZOOM ON THEIR STOOP IN BROOKLYN, THAT NOW THEY HAD THE CHANCE TO CELEBRATE.

THAT'S WHAT LIVE PERFORMANCE CAN DO, BRING PEOPLE TOGETHER, CELEBRATE TOGETHER, GRIEVE TOGETHER.

WE DID A JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER SECOND LINE GOING UP FROM COLUMBUS CIRCLE TO THE PLAZA.

I THINK THE WAYS WE CAN BRING BACK RITUALS WE MISSED OVER THE YEARS AND MAKE SPACE FOR THAT.

AND SAY, YOU CAN REALLY BRING YOUR WHOLE SELF TO LINCOLN CENTER.

WE ALSO DID AN OR TRIBUTE TO BIGGIE SMALLS, IT WAS CREATIVE BLACK TIE.

STUNNING.

UPCOMING WE HAVE ON THE 30th OF JULY, GLOBAL FEST.

IT'S AN ORGANIZATION THAT I HAVE BEEN A CODIRECTOR OF FOR YEARS, BUT WE'RE BRINGING THAT ENTIRE FESTIVAL TO LINCOLN CENTER.

IT'S BEEN CANCELED.

IT'S THE JANUARY FESTIVAL, SO OF COURSE WE HAVEN'T HAD IT FOR THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS.

WE'RE BRINGING SIX BANDS FROM AROUND THE GLOBE TO LINCOLN CENTER FOR REALLY THAT FESTIVAL FEELING.

WE'VE HAVE DUCK VIBRAKA, PROBABLY ONE OF THE MOST TOURING BANDS WHO ARE THE MOST UNIQUE BLENDS OF FOLK AND PUNK, AND IT'S UNLIKE ANYTHING YOU'VE EVER SEEN.

AND THEN WE HAVE A BAND FROM AFGHANISTAN, TURKEY.

IT'S GOING TO BE A BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL DAY.

AND I THINK IT'S ALSO A CHANCE WHERE YOU CAN REALLY EXPLORE ALL OF THESE TEN STAGES WE'VE SET UP AROUND CAMPUS SOME YOU CAN GO FROM OUR BAND SHELL, WHICH IS ALWAYS A BELOVED SPACE TO SEE BANDS, BUT ALSO MOVE TO THE PLAZA WHERE WE HAVE THIS TEN FOOT DISCO BALL HANGING OVER THE FOUNTAIN.

ASIDE FROM TAKING OVER AT A PARTICULARLY DIFFICULT TIME WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER CHALLENGES TAKING OVER LINCOLN SENTER?

IT'S HARD TO SAY.

AGAIN, IT'S BEEN SUCH A JOY TO BE IN THIS PLACE OF PRIVILEGE, AND I THINK ONE OF THE CHALLENGES IS REALLY MAKING SURE THAT WE'RE REFLECTING THE CITY AND SERVING THE CITY AND ADDRESSING THE NEEDS OF RIGHT NOW.

AND SO THAT OF COURSE LOOKS LIKE BRINGING THE BEST FROM ALL AROUND THE WORLD TO CAMPUS FOR ENTERTAINMENT.

BUT IT ALSO LOOKS LIKE DOING BLOOD DRIVES, DOING FOOD DRIVES, LOOKS LIKE NATURALIZATION CEREMONIES.

SO I THINK THIS WAY OF, WE HAVE THIS ENORMOUS RESOURCE OF SPACE, HOW CAN WE MAKE SURE WE ARE USING IT, NOT JUST FOR THE THINGS WE KNOW WE'RE GOOD AT, BUT EXPANDING THAT TO JUST THINGS THE CITY NEEDS RIGHT NOW THAT PERHAPS WE HAD TAKEN OURSELVES OUT OF THOSE CONVERSATIONS.

SO I THINK JUST REINSERTING OURSELVES IN THAT CONVERSATION AND MAKING SURE THAT EVERYONE ON STAFF IS REALLY REPOSITIONING THEMSELVES AS A LISTENER.

AND WE CAN BE A BEHE MOTH IN ANY ROOM.

LINCOLN CENTER IS ONE OF THE LARGEST AND GREATEST PERFORMING ARTS CENTERS IN THE WORLD, BUT THIS IS A TIME WHEN WE ALL HAVE A LOT TO LEARN.

I DON'T THINK ANYONE'S SHOWING UP IN ANY ROOM WITH ALL THE ANSWERS AT THIS POINT.

SO WE CERTAINLY HAVE TO BE IN A PLACE OF DEEP LISTENING AND REALLY HUMBLE IN HOW WE STEP INTO SPACES AND THEN RESPOND IN KIND.

WELL, THERE'S ONE CHALLENGE THAT YOU HAVEN'T MENTIONED THAT I NEVER THOUGHT ABOUT UNTIL I READ A PIECE ABOUT YOU, WHICH IS THE WEATHER.

YOU HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE WEATHER EVERY DAY ALL DAY LONG.

TALK ABOUT THAT.

I DO.

I'M GETTING A LITTLE BIT BETTER AT IT.

IT COMES WITH PRACTICE.

BUT YOU JUST HAVE TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT THERE IS WEATHER.

AND WHEN YOU THINK YOU KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN, YOU TRULY -- MOTHER NATURE HAS A WAY OF SURPRISING YOU.

SO IT'S GOOD TO KEEP ON YOUR TOES ALL THE TIME.

BUT YES.

SO FAR -- KNOCK ON WOOD -- WE HAVEN'T HAD A SINGLE RAINOUT.

THAT'S GOOD.

WHAT ARE THE PLEASANT SURPRISES THAT YOU'VE ENCOUNTERED IN YOUR FIRST YEAR?

I THINK THE PLEASANT SURPRISE IS ACTUALLY THE ACCEPTANCE OF CHANGE AT THIS ORGANIZATION, AN ORGANIZATION OF THIS SIZE.

HOW READY, WILLING, AND ABLE PEOPLE ARE TO REALLY STEP INTO THIS VISION OF WHAT IS AN EQUITABLE ARTS ORGANIZATION, WHAT IS A CIVIC OR THES ORGANIZATION REALLY LOOK LIKE?

HOW DO WE SENTER THE STORIES OF PEOPLE FROM AROUND THE CITY IN A NEW WAY?

AND THAT FEELS LIKE IT'S ALL HANDS ARE ON THE WHEEL, AND WE'RE ALL PULLING IN THE SAME DIRECTION, SO I FEEL LIKE THAT'S BEEN AN INCREDIBLE, BEAUTIFUL SURPRISE.

I THINK THE OTHER SURPRISE IS THE AUDIENCES COMING TO THESE EVENTS.

IT IS STUNNING.

IT IS STUNNING TO SEE, TO ACTUALLY WATCH PEOPLE WALK INTO OUR DANCE FLOOR FOR THE FIRST TIME, FOR FAMILIES TO BE COMING.

AND SO WE'VE SEEN THIS MULTIGENERATIONAL AUDIENCE ARRIVE AT LINCOLN CENTER, MANY OF THEM FOR THE FIRST TIME.

AND I THINK JUST WATCHING ALL OF THESE KIDS ON THE DANCE FLOOR WITH HAIR HEADPHONES ON AND KNOWING THAT THIS IS OUR AUDIENCE, THIS IS AS IMPORTANT AN AUDIENCE TO US AS AN AUDIENCE THAT WILL COME INTO THE NEW DAVID GEFFEN ALL IN NOVEMBER.

WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO END IT THERE.

I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS BUT YOU'LL BE BACK MANY MORE TIMES IF YOU WANT TO COME BACK.

THANK YOU FOR JOINING US.

IT'S BEEN A PLEASURE.

THANK YOU, RAFAEL.

> 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE PETER G. PETERSON AND JOAN GANZ COONEY FUND, BERNARD AND DENISE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, THE AMBROSE MONELL FOUNDATION.

AND BY --

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