New York City

The streets of New York alone are stageworthy. With so many people faking it 'til they make it, daily life can take on the feeling of performance—to exhausting, and inspiring, effect. No wonder that the city draws a constant influx of actors, singers, dancers, and musicians from around the globe, all striving for their big break and infusing the city with a crackling creative energy. This fiercely competitive scene produces an unrivaled wealth of culture and art that many New Yorkers cite as the reason they're here, and that millions more are determined to travel for.

Although costly ticket prices can make attending a Broadway show a less common outing for even the most devout theater-loving New Yorkers, that's not true of many other kinds of more affordable performances. Whether the audiences are primarily local or not, it's their discernment that helps drive the arts scene, whether they are flocking to a concert hall to hear a world-class soprano deliver a flawless performance, or crowding into a cramped café to support fledgling writers reading from their own work.

New York has upward of 200 "legitimate" theaters (meaning those with theatrical performances, not movies), and many more ad hoc venues—parks, churches, lofts, galleries, rooftops, even parking lots. The city is also a revolving door of special events: summer jazz, one-act-play marathons, film festivals, and music and dance celebrations from the classical to the avant-garde, to name just a few.

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  • 1. Anthology Film Archives

    East Village | Film

    Dedicated to preserving and exhibiting independent and avant-garde film, Anthology Film Archives consists of two intimate screening rooms (seating...Read More

  • 2. Nuyorican Poets Cafe

    East Village | Readings/Lectures

    The reigning arbiter of poetry slams, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe hosts open-mic events and the influential granddaddy (b. 1989) of the spoken...Read More

  • 3. The Moth

    SoHo | Readings/Lectures

    Dedicated to first-person storytelling, this roving series has spread far beyond New York, where it was founded in 1997 by the writer George...Read More

  • 4. The Public Theater

    East Village | Theater

    Fresh, exciting theater keeps people talking about the Public Theater, which was founded in 1954 but has most recently seen such hits as Lin...Read More

  • 5. Classic Stage Company

    East Village | Theater

    At the CSC's cozy 199-seat theater, you can see work by Shakespeare as well as excellent revivals—such as work by Tennessee Williams or Eugene...Read More

  • 6. Danspace Project

    East Village | Dance

    Founded to foster the work of independent choreographers such as Lucinda Childs and David Gordon, Danspace Project sponsors performances that...Read More

  • 7. KGB Bar

    East Village | Readings/Lectures

    A nexus of the downtown literary scene, KGB keeps a busy calendar of readings and events, including Sunday Night Fiction and Monday Night Poetry...Read More

  • 8. La MaMa E.T.C.

    East Village | Theater

    The late Ellen Stewart founded La MaMa E.T.C. in 1961 in a small Manhattan basement. Since that time, the Experimental Theatre Club has grown...Read More

  • 9. New York Theatre Workshop

    East Village | Theater

    Works by new and established playwrights anchor this theater's repertoire. Jonathan Larson's Rent got its start here before going to Broadway...Read More

  • 10. Performance Space 122 (PS122)

    East Village | Theater

    Founded in 1980 inside a 19th-century public school building, Performance Space 122 has helped launch the careers of many downtown musicians...Read More

  • 11. SubCulture

    East Village | Concerts

    With its exposed brick, structural pillars, theater-style seating, and industrial-chic bar, this intimate subterranean concert hall could just...Read More

  • 12. The Poetry Project

    East Village | Readings/Lectures

    Launched in 1966, the Poetry Project has been a source of sustenance for poets (and their audiences) ever since. This place has seen performances...Read More

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