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MasterCard Rescues New York SummerStage With Rap, Opera, Jazz

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SummerStage
The crowd cheers at a SummerStage concert in New York. This year, MasterCard International Inc. replaced Snapple as the sponsor of the 25-year-old music series. This year's lineup features more than 100 free concerts in New York's five boroughs, ranging from salsa music to opera. Source: New York City Parks Foundation via Bloomberg

June 17 (Bloomberg) -- When the SummerStage free concert series lost soft-drink maker Snapple as its big sponsor, overseer David Rivel began thinking about cutbacks. Then he got a white knight with a flag to wave.

MasterCard International Inc. stepped forward this year to offer a one-year sponsorship that allows it to plaster its name on posters and signs at SummerStage venues in all five of New York City’s boroughs.

Cheryl Guerin, MasterCard’s senior vice president overseeing digital marketing in the U.S., declined to disclose the value of the sponsorship.

“For us, it was the draw of SummerStage,” Guerin said in a phone interview. “It provides our cardholders with great priceless music and a cultural experience, and so it was a natural fit.”

The MasterCard deal allowed SummerStage to unveil a menu of more than 100 free concerts and performances for its 25th anniversary, the largest lineup in the festival’s history. The program highlights musicians who got their start in New York. They include jazz pianist McCoy Tyner (June 23) and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (July 23). Salsa master Eddie Palmieri and his fiery Latin jazz ensemble, La Perfecta II, will perform on June 22 at Soundview Park in the Bronx, the borough where he grew up.

Rising opera stars Susanna Phillips and Michael Fabiano perform July 12 in a recital as part of the Metropolitan Opera’s Summer Recital Series.

Phillips, a soprano who made her Met debut last season as Musetta in Puccini’s “La Boheme,” received the opera house’s fifth Beverly Sills Artist Award for young singers in April.

New York’s Diversity

“The lineup shows you the diversity of the music that comes out of New York,” said Rivel, executive director of the City Parks Foundation that manages SummerStage, in a phone interview.

SummerStage has provided free music, dance, jazz and literary events to New York residents since its start in 1986. The program, which has a budget of $4.9 million this year, expects to attract more than 200,000 people, Rivel said.

Foundations, corporations and individuals cover 90 percent of City Parks Foundation’s budget, which is about $10 million, he said.

“We knew in a tough economy that the demand for our programs would even be greater,” Rivel said. “We’re not alone in all this. Some nonprofits are still struggling.”

To contact the writer on this story: Patrick Cole in New York at pcole3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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