Library offers “tech kits” for performing artists

New initiative lends out kits with technology and tools -- including iPads with cellular service, microphones, MIDI keyboards, and rings lights -- necessary for performing artists in need to record and share works online

Volume 121, No. 4April, 2021

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts announced that it will be lending out iPads with data service, microphones, MIDI keyboards and more as part of a new tech kit program. Photo by Jonathan Blanc/The New York Public Library.

COVID-19 has presented extreme challenges for performing artists. Live performances have all but disappeared, drastically reducing income opportunities for many artists. Simultaneously, virtual performances, auditions, classes and collaborations have all moved online, making the need for in-home technological resources all the more crucial for performing artists at any stage in their careers and creative process. To help provide resources for performing artists during this unprecedented time, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has launched Tech Kits for Performing Artists, a new program lending out essential technology to  enable artists in need to document and share their works online.

“Lack of technology and access to Wi-Fi is one of the greatest barriers to success in our digital world and we know that the global pandemic has only widened the digital divide within the performing arts community, disproportionately impacting BIPOC and disabled artists,” said Jennifer Schantz, Barbara G. and Lawrence A. Fleischman Executive Director of the Library for the Performing Arts. “We hope the Tech Kits for Performing Artists program will help offer artists in need the tools and resources that are essential to keep working and creating during this time. It may have been a year since the pandemic started, but it certainly hasn’t ended yet, and we plan to continue this program long after it’s over, as we know these tools will still be in demand.”

Tech Kits for Performing Artists are available for free to any NYPL cardholder age 18 and older, and can be requested through the Library’s online catalog. Patrons can place a hold on a kit and request pick-up at their nearest NYPL Grab-and-Go location in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Kits are loaned for up to three months at a time.

Each Tech Kit for Performing Artists will include:

  • 12.9” iPad Pro with cellular data

  • Logitech Slim Folio Pro case with integrated keyboard

  • Logitech B100 Corded Mouse

  • AKG Lyra USB microphone

  • Behringer HC 2000B Wireless Headphones with Bluetooth

  • Xcellon usb c – 4-port usb 3.1 hub

  • GVM LED Ring Light with Phone Tripod Stand Kit

  • Connection cables and chargers

Special music kits will also include a M-Audio Keystation Mini 32 MK3 MIDI keyboard.

For this initial phase, the Library for the Performing Arts has partnered with Dance/NYC (whose COVID-19 Impact Survey helped inspire and inform the initiative), Staten Island Arts, and other organizations to help ensure that artists across the city are aware of this new resource.

Tech Kits for Performing Artists is made possible by generous grants from The NYC COVID-19 Response and Impact Fund in The New York Community Trust, the Ford Foundation, and the Tiger Baron Foundation.

The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts houses one of the world’s most extensive combinations of circulating, reference, and rare archival collections in its field. These materials are available free of charge, along with a wide range of special programs, including exhibitions, seminars, and performances. An essential resource for everyone with an interest in the arts — whether professional or amateur — the Library is known particularly for its prodigious collections of non-book materials such as historic recordings, videotapes, autograph manuscripts, correspondence, sheet music, stage designs, press clippings, programs, posters and photographs. The Library is part of The New York Public Library system, which has locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island, and is a lead provider of free education for all.