Criticism of privatization and loss of space for the public in Bryant Park has always accompanied Fashion Week, a biannual event that occurs in September and February in the park.
Those familiar with Project for Public Spaces (PPS), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help people create and sustain public spaces, may have noticed that Bryant Park appears on both the PPS list of “Great Public Spaces” and in its “Hall of Shame”. PPS placed Bryant Park in the latter category for closing the lawn and Fountain Terrace to the public while Fashion Week takes place, even though large amounts of space remain open to the public during the event.
The photo of Bryant Park in the “Hall of Shame” entry is misleading. This video, shot on September 3rd, 2009, during construction of the Fashion Week tents, shows the park buzzing with public activity. Our daily lunchtime count totaled 3,086 people, and a number of free activities occurred that day, including Pétanque lessons, Ping Pong, and Piano in Bryant Park, which were all well attended by park patrons. Other popular activities not impeded by Fashion Week’s presence include bi-weekly Tai Chi classes, Meet the Birds in Bryant Park, knitting lessons, and poetry readings. Le Carrousel also remains open with normal operating hours.
When working with producers who wish to hold events in Bryant Park, our foremost concern is the public. We take measures to ensure that the entire park is never closed to its patrons, and that people can still enjoy their time in the park whether or not they are participating in an event.