Sign 1,797 that New York is back: Subway music is returning.
The MTA’s Music Under New York program is set to begin again on June 4th. The full roster of 350 artists will be phased in over the next few months.
“For 14 months, our performers have been unable to do what they love. Musicians were among the many who sacrificed their livelihood for public safety,” Sandra Bloodworth, director of MTA Arts & Design, said Thursday.
Rachel Hippert, founder of the Opera Collective, is one of the Music Under New York musicians that will be returning the subways to perform. Speaking at the MTA’s announcement of the return at the 72nd Street station, she said the pandemic has been tough on musicians, but they’re ready to be back underground
“To be unable to perform and sing for so long felt a bit like living a half-life, like an essential part of us was silenced. It has been the most difficult part of my life,” she said. “We’ve always believed in the importance of our work, but it feels more necessary than ever before in our lifetimes...As doctors have been working tirelessly to heal our bodies, so artists are now called to heal and tend to our souls.”
The Music Under New York Program has been around since 1985 and allows more than 350 musicians to perform all year at around 35 locations throughout the subway system.
This week’s announcement comes the same week that the subways began allowing riders back for 24-hour service.
The MTA has been walking a fine line of asking the city for more police to patrol the subways, while at the same time trying to encourage riders to return to the system.
There are currently 2,500 NYPD officers assigned to cover the subways, along with an additional 500 officers that have been deployed since February. The city agreed this week to add an additional 250 officers to work during rush hour, as well as 80 volunteer officers.
The MTA continues to call for more police, while the city has said that’s enough.
“Precision policing means moving resources where they're needed when they're needed, and I trust the security professionals at the NYPD to make those judgments,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said this week. “But we keep focusing with precision policing, with investments of additional officers,[it’s the] largest police force in the subways in 25 years. How about the MTA pull its own weight and join us and help us rather than just criticize?”