I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go public with my resolutions for the New Year because, well, then I’d be forced to stick to them (No. 4 is really hard for me!). But I’m going to need your support for a few of them, and I’m guessing my first goal is one that all New Yorkers share. Maybe we can help each other out?
1. Break out of my culture rut.
I pride myself on being a part of NYC’s rich performance art scene. I spent 20 years as a Broadway producer and am the chair of the board of trustees at The Public Theater, so I see more than my fair share of theater. Still, I’d like to make more of an effort to experience all the different types of performances in this city. 2018 is the year I venture out of my comfort zone and take more risks when I go out at night.
Our theater and performance experts, David Cote and Ross Tipograph, have suggested so many places to see emerging and experimental acts: The Bushwick Starr (its upcoming show is an Afrofuturism transmedia piece starring actor and writer Darian Dauchan); The Flea Theater in Tribeca (the incomparable Taylor Mac is a former resident artist here); P.S. 122 in the East Village (its Coil Festival is happening now!); La Mama (The Blue Man Group started here back in 1988); National Sawdust, an avant-garde performance space in Williamsburg; and House of Yes, where burlesque groups and aerialists perform in a sexy nightclub atmosphere in Bushwick. Looks like I’ll be heading to Brooklyn a lot!
Speaking of Brooklyn, many of our music experts’ favorite venues are there, too. Meera Dugal and John Seroff have tipped me off to the restored 1929 Prospect Heights theater and ballroom Murmrr, which is said to have amazing acoustics, and Elsewhere, a mammoth arts space and live-music venue in an old Bushwick warehouse. If you know of any great performance spots I should check out, let me know!
I want to pair my new performance adventures with some of the culinary kind, too. I have so many food allergies that I often stick to the same restaurants that I know can accommodate them. But I’m going to break out of my mold this year! I’m so inspired by our food expert and staff editor, Jess Bender, who finds hole-in-the-wall joints for authentic ethnic food in every borough. Seriously, check out her Off the Eaten Path columns, in which she shares dozens of delicious hidden gems. My kids will love trying out all these under-the-radar taco meccas, and my Queens-born-and-raised husband will enjoy a trip back to his home borough for the best ethnic eats off the 7 train.
2. Share more on social media.
I have accounts on all the big platforms—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn—but I rarely use them. I want to get in the habit of posting more, professionally and personally, about my adventures, especially now that I’ve made a commitment to trying more new-to-me cultural experiences. My whole career, from being a Broadway producer to starting What Should We Do?!, has been about making arts and culture accessible to all. I strongly believe that you don’t have to earn a certain income or be a certain age or be any kind of scene insider to experience all the important art that is happening in NYC. I never want people to feel intimidated to see a show or attend a performance. Social media is great for getting that message across, not to mention exposing a diverse cross-section of New Yorkers and visitors to different types of events.
While I’m sometimes shy about sharing a photo on Instagram and often wonder, “Will anyone really care about this?,” I also know that one person might see my post about, say, a raga show at (Le) Poisson Rouge and be inspired to attend. Maybe he or she wouldn’t have heard about it otherwise.
So expect to see a lot more of me in your feeds! I hope you’ll let me know if my posts spark any ideas for you—and let me know if there’s something in NYC that you love that I should check out.
3. Grow WSWD to one million members/followers.
Yep, it’s a big number. But I think it’s totally doable. In the past few months, our word-of-mouth exposure has really broken out. People are signing up for our newsletters and services based on the glowing recommendations and experiences of our current members and readers. Add to that some exciting new partnerships, and I think we may even reach this goal before the end of 2018.
We’ve been in conversations with a number of hotels, and they’ve all been impressed with our planning services and content. We already have partnerships with four hotels in Manhattan; they offer WSWD memberships to their guests as a special perk. We are so excited to give their thousands of daily guests access to insider, nontouristy recommendations and tips!
New York City companies that care about their employees’ well-being in and out of the office—including Bloomingdale’s and Tiffany & Co.!—have gotten in touch with us, too. They’re giving their staffs WSWD memberships so that they can take full advantage of the city when they’re not at work. We’ve had successful event-based partnerships with New York magazine and Lincoln Center, as well.
I’ve worked so hard to build WSWD, and I’m so proud of our growth so far. Which is why I should maybe give myself a break on my fourth goal…
4. Eat a little less candy.
I am allergic to almost all foods. Really, the long list of things I can’t eat (unless I want to be in serious pain afterward) includes most fruits and veggies, dairy, red meat, almost all grains, alcohol, and coffee. But pure sugar doesn’t seem to bother my system, so it has become my one vice. Some people look forward to coffee at breakfast or wine with dinner; I look forward to Jolly Ranchers and Swedish Fish. I am a bona fide candy addict.
Since I can’t eat chocolate, I have developed a true weakness for the most tooth-rotting of treats: candy corn, gummies, Sour Patch Kids, Hot Tamales. Visiting the big NYC candy shops—World of Nuts, It’Sugar, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Sugarfina, Economy Candy—is one of my favorite things to do. There’s nothing more satisfying than pouring scoopfuls of candy into those plastic baggies (yes, I know I sound like a 7-year-old!). And I love checking out all of the city’s incredible boutique shops, like The Sweet Life, Papabubble, Handsome Dan’s Snocone & Candy Stand, and Sockerbit.
I can never give up candy completely, but I have to cut back. I’ll only fill my plastic candy bags halfway, and I will move the giant candy bowl from my office to the conference room. When I’m craving sweets, I will try a cup of herbal tea instead. I’m hoping that the success of WSWD (see goal No. 3!) will be sweet enough this year.