If you are looking for entertainment, New York City is the place to be. I’ve always appreciated all it has to offer but lately I’m discovering events I never knew existed. One such event took place at The Cutting Room on 36th Street. It’s called RAW NYC Manhattan and is part of the international company known as RAW, an independent arts organization, for artists, by artists.
RAW was started in 2005 by Heidi Luerra. After unsuccessfully attempting to make a name for herself in the fashion industry she decided there must be a better way. In time she realized there was too much competition, which was preventing newer artists from being seen and recognized.
That’s when she decided to take things into her own hands. She started her first RAW event in California and the rest is history.
The Director of RAW NYC Manhattan is Faith Verrill, who also oversees RAW Boston. After producing theatre for years Faith realized she wanted to work with different types of artists and not just actors. When the opportunity arose for her to launch RAW Boston in 2010 she took the leap of “Faith.”
Faith did such a good job that she was offered RAW NYC Manhattan. At first she traveled back and forth from her home in Boston but recently moved to NYC but still continues to run both showcases.
It’s clear she knows how to run an event because if the Friday, March 7th event is any indication of the interest RAW NYC Manhattan receives then it’s clear this is a home run. The place was swarming with people who paid to see the talent that was being presented.
I chatted with Faith who gave me the details about the many artists being featured.
“I receive hundreds of submissions each month from various types of artists for RAW NYC Manhattan. In fact there is a two-year waiting list for artists outside of NY state. So there is a pretty big demand to be in our showcases and a privilege to be a part of a show once booked for a showcase,” Faith explained.
“I only select the artists I feel are RAW quality and that will add something special and creative to the showcase. I usually book around 40 artists per showcase. I thought last Fridays show was one of the best shows we have produced.
“I love our new home at The Cutting Room and all of the artists were fantastic to work with.”
Faith was correct about The Cutting Room being so right for this event. The layout of this place and the décor speaks to artists. It’s multi-level so you can wander through all the nooks and crannies while discovering what each artist’s focus is.
“All of my shows have this energy that I don't ever experience at in any other show,” Faith continued. “The vibe is so enthusiastic, supportive, and excited. The guests that come to our shows are a diverse range of ages of people but they all have one thing in common, they love the arts and they love supporting the arts.”
I can vouch for the energy since I felt it as well. Everyone was upbeat and having a good time networking and socializing and, best of all, discovering what all the artists had to offer. Many opened up their wallets for the chance to take home a work of art. There was a stage set up on the first floor where musicians, fashion designers and artists of all kinds took to the stage while the crowd enjoyed the backdrop.
Faith had more to say.
“There is a sense of support between the patron and artist that you don't normally have in other showcase events. This show like other shows we have produced in the past had that same supportive energy. There were almost 700 patrons that attended.
“That amount of exposure is important to my artists because the majority of them are emerging artists and they need the platform RAW provides to them to reach the success they deserve. “ And it was clear these artists were getting exposure from not only those that came to the event but also because of the advance promotion of the event.
“What I love about RAW is that it is a group of artists for artists,” Faith continued. “We all work together to promote the show, which makes all of our shows a success. I was once an actress and dancer so I know the pain and stress of having multiple jobs trying desperately to pay rent while sustaining a creative career.”
It’s this connection that Faith has to these artists that helps her to understand the difficulties these artists face.
“That helps us relate to each other because I have been in their shoes before. It is my goal to give as much exposure to my artists as possible and provide them with the platform for them to succeed.”
The next RAW NYC Manhattan will take place on April 25th at The Cutting Room. For more details go to www.RAWartists.org/newyork/spectrum. And to find out about all of the shows go to www.RAWartists.org/newyork.
I think the best way to understand RAW is to look at the photo pages that go with this blog and get a sense of what this event is all about.
If you’d like to be a part of my The NYC Scene column feel free to contact me. I look for hands-on type of things to do in addition to coverage of events. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have an idea you’d like to pitch.