Virtual Forum: Adaptive Cities in a Post-Covid Era

This virtual forum will focus on the impacts to the Culture and Media Sectors from Covid-19, current challenges to the workforce in the sectors, the inventive solutions that are already emerging, and more.

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The Covid-19 epidemic is instigating unprecedented challenges for cities across the world. We are in a moment where our experience and the operation of our cities is undergoing a paradigmatic change. There is an urgent need to support communities to respond to the perils at hand. Once we shift into a recovery mode, we will need to be forward thinking and adaptive in the way that our industries and urban systems re-mobilize.

As a practice, Buro Happold Cities works collaboratively with stakeholders that manage our urban systems, from policy to the public realm to infrastructure. We are honored to convene a set of strategic thinkers who are critically engaging the continuity of our economic sectors and infrastructure. During this talk we will discuss the communities most impacted, the inventive solutions that are already emerging, and proactive approaches to ensure the continued sustainability, vibrancy and equity of our cities.

The Culture and Media Sectors during Covid-19

This panel will focus on the Culture and Media Sectors, industries that Buro Happold has long been committed to through efforts both at the policy level and at the institution level, through projects such as the New York City Small Theater Industry Economic & Cultural Impacts Study and facility design for institutions such as St. Ann’s Warehouse and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. The panel will explore the specific ways in which constituencies have been affected, and how policy makers and institutions are working to support them in the near and long-term.

Topics to be explored include:

  • Cultural workforce vulnerabilities
  • Cultural institution adaptation and emerging, operating and production models of innovation
  • The ‘physicality’ of culture and the role of the built environment
  • The path forward and the new normal for cultural institutions
  • And more, as topics to emerge

We are pleased to host the following strategic thinkers from the Culture sector:

Anne del Castillo, Commissioner, NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment

Anne del Castillo serves as the Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME).  A native New Yorker, del Castillo has more than 25 years of experience in film and TV production, public media, and arts and nonprofit administration. Commissioner del Castillo leads MOME’s efforts to bolster the city’s creative sectors of film, television, theatre, music, advertising, publishing and digital content creation, and also cultivate a sustainable nighttime economy through the City’s first-ever Office of Nightlife.  She has also served as an associate producer on the Sundance Award-winning documentary Imelda about the former First Lady of the Philippines; contributed as a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts, Center for Asian American Media, and New York State Council on the Arts; and has presented at industry events, including South by Southwest and the Sithengi Film and TV Market in South Africa.

Todd Asher, Bloomberg Associates, Media & Technology

Todd Asher joined Bloomberg Associates at its inception in January 2014. He helps develop municipal strategies related to public communications and economic development in the media and technology sectors. He draws on experience in New York City government as well as best practices from the private sector and international cities around the world. Prior to joining Bloomberg Associates, Todd served as First Deputy Commissioner for the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment (MOME) after serving as Chief Operating Officer for NYC Media. At MOME, he was responsible for day-to-day operations as well as business development, customer service and industry support in the digital, film, television and commercial production arenas. Todd was instrumental in the appointment of the first Chief Digital Officer and creation of the NYC Roadmap for the Digital City.

Jonathan McCrory, Artistic Director, National Black Theater

Jonathan McCrory is an Obie Award-winning, Harlem-based artist who has served as Artistic Director at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre since 2012. He has directed numerous professional productions and concerts which include: How the Light Gets In (NYMF), Klook and Iron John (NAMT), Dead and Breathing, HandsUp, Hope Speaks, Blacken The Bubble, Asking for More, Last Laugh and Enter Your Sleep. He has worked at ETW at TISCH NYU. In 2013, he was awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston Salem, North Carolina, and the Torch Bearer Award by theatrical legend Woodie King Jr. He is a founding member of the collaborative producing organizations Harlem9, Black Theatre Commons, The Jubilee, Next Generation National Network and The Movement Theatre Company. McCrory sits on the National Advisory Committee for and was a member of the original cohort for ArtEquity.

John Vanco, Senior Vice President, IFC Films

Through his leadership roles in film distribution and exhibition over the last twenty-five years, John Vanco has strived to connect great works of cinema with appreciative and enthusiastic audiences. Since joining IFC Entertainment in 2005, Vanco has helped craft release campaigns for hundreds of films distributed by IFC Films, Sundance Selects and IFC Midnight, three multi-platform labels owned and operated by AMC Networks, Inc. Currently overseeing all theatrical distribution for IFC Films, Vanco has spent more than a decade in IFC Films’ senior management group guiding the selection, marketing and release of films. Additionally, Vanco has been responsible for the programming, management, vision and performance of the IFC Center since its opening in 2005. Before joining IFC Entertainment, Vanco was one of the founders and the President of Cowboy Pictures. Prior to that, Vanco worked at Miramax, New Yorker Films and Fine Line Features. Vanco has been a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences since 2019.

Mark Rossier, Managing Director/Producer, Elevator Repair Service Theater, former Director of Grants, New York Foundation for the Arts

Mark Rossier joined Elevator Repair Service Theater as Managing Director/Producer in April after 12 year at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).  He held a variety of positions at NYFA, most recently as Director of Grants, overseeing both the Fiscal Sponsorship department and 9 grant programs distributing nearly $3 million annually. Prior to joining NYFA he was Director of Development and Marketing at the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York). He was also Director of Marketing at the Shakespeare Festival of New Jersey and Capital Repertory Theater in Albany, New York. He has been a frequent grant panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, among others, and has served three terms as a member of the nominating and voting committee for the Lucille Lortel Awards, which honor excellence Off-Broadway.

Shayan Lotfi, Head of Economics, Buro Happold Cities (moderator)

Shayan Lotfi is Head of Economics at Buro Happold and specializes in cultural policy, urban economic development, and land use and infrastructure economics. His cultural policy work includes industry assessments of the theatre, film, and television sectors in New York City; a cultural land use assessment for Toronto’s Ontario Place site; and a land use and phasing strategy for the cultural district of Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island.

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