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. 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

  • 2. The Greene Space

    SoHo | Music

    The local public radio stations WNYC and WQXR invite the public into their intimate (125 seats) studio for live shows featuring classical, rock...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. Center for Architecture

    Greenwich Village | Readings/Lectures

    This contemporary glass-faced gallery near Washington Square hosts lively discussions (which may be accompanied by films or other visuals) on...Read More

  • 5. 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

  • 6. LIVE from the NYPL

    Midtown West | Readings/Lectures

    The New York Public Library's discussion series includes a rich program of lectures and reading events from the biggest names in books and culture...Read More

  • 7. New York Studio School

    Greenwich Village | Readings/Lectures

    The venerable New York Studio School hosts two—always free, almost always on Tuesday and Wednesday—evening lecture series (fall and spring)...Read More

  • 8. Poets House

    Financial District | Readings/Lectures

    Situated in a bright and airy building in the residential area of Battery Park City and near the Hudson River, this reading room is an open...Read More

  • 9. 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

  • 10. Works & Process

    Upper East Side | Readings/Lectures

    Insight into the creative process is what the Works & Process program at the Guggenheim is all about. Often drawing on dance and theater...Read More

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