David Rivel wrote in to clear up some confusion....


I am David Rivel, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation, the non-profit organization that produces Central Park SummerStage. We also put on free arts, sports and educational programs and work with community groups in 700 other parks around the five boroughs.

A friend of mine alerted me to the postings here, so I thought I’d respond to some of the questions about the festival.

SummerStage is a FREE festival consisting of 32 events: music, dance, spoken word and others. Many people assume that because the festival is free that it must not cost us anything to put it on: people think (incorrectly) that the artists donate their time and that the labor is volunteer.

In fact, SummerStage costs about $2 million to produce. The stage labor, site crew and security force is all paid (with benefits). Artists charge their normal fees.

In order to pay for SummerStage, City Parks Foundation does several things: we raise money from corporate sponsors, foundations interested in supporting free music and individuals willing to become members. You can get information about becoming a member by going to our website at We also run a concession stand and sell some merchandise. We also host six shows every year that have a ticket price. Let me explain how these “benefit” shows work.

Each year, we send out a letter to everyone who produces shows in New York City, asking if they would like to do a benefit for SummerStage. They choose the artist (subject to our approval), set the ticket price, and do all the promotion. We agree to list the event in our brochure and materials. We receive a flat fee from the producer, plus an overage depending on how many tickets are sold.

It’s a great way to raise money for the free shows, but we are aware that the benefit shows sometimes interfere with the message we are trying to send out, which is that SummerStage is a wonderful, FREE festival. As a result, we are reducing the number of benefit shows we do. Last summer, we did eight benefit shows; this coming summer, we will be doing only six. As for tickets, we do not know when they will be on sale (since they’re not, technically, our shows), but you can generally expect to see advertising for them in May. At our website, you can sign up for our e-mail list. We generally, but not always, send out information about how to buy tickets to the benefit shows as soon as they are announced.

If you come to a benefit show, know that you are helping to support all the free events we put on every year in Central Park.

I would welcome your additional comments, questions and feedback. Since I’m not a regular user of this site, I would ask that you write me at: City Parks Foundation, 830 Fifth Avenue, NYC 10021. I promise to respond to all letters received.

David Byrne @ Summerstage

Central Park Summerstage, 2006
June 25 - Feist, Jason Collett
July 2 - Seu Jorge, Jose Gonzalez, Alex Cuba Band
July 13 - Ani DiFranco
July 16 - Amadou & Mariam, Daby Toure
Sept 5 - Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Damian Marley
Sept 6 - Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, Damian Marley (more info)

Prospect Park Bandhsell, 2006
July 9 - Ralph's World
July 13 - Yo La Tengo
Aug 4 - Los Amigos Invisibles
Aug 6 - King Sunny Ade & His African Beats