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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 22, 2004
No. 107
www.nyc.gov/parks

CITY ANNOUNCES DETAILS OF CHRISTO AND JEANNE-CLAUDE’S PROJECT: THE GATES IN CENTRAL PARK

Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin, Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein, NYC & Company President and CEO Cristyne L. Nicholas and artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude today announced details regarding The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005. The temporary work of art by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude will consist of 7,500 gates bearing hanging saffron-colored fabric panels, lining 23 miles of pedestrian paths in Central Park. The fabric panels will be unfurled on February 12, 2005, unless extreme weather conditions exist, and The Gates will be on display through February 27, 2005. President of the Central Park Conservancy Doug Blonsky, Chief Engineer and Director of Construction for The Gates Vince Davenport and Project Director Jonita Davenport joined the announcement at the Department of Parks & Recreation headquarters’ Arsenal Gallery.

"All our work is about freedom," said Christo and Jeanne-Claude. "Nobody can buy our projects, nobody can sell tickets to experience our projects. Freedom is the enemy of possession and possession is equal to permanence. That is why our projects can not remain and must go away forever. Our projects are ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ and ‘once upon a time’."

"The manufacturing of the gates in the assembly plant in Queens is almost compete," said Vince Davenport. "The 15,000 steel bases and all other gate components have arrived and we are in the final phase of attaching the fabric panels to the horizontal poles. We are ahead of our original manufacturing schedule and are now focusing on the logistical plans to ensure a safe and successful installation."

"Mayor Bloomberg’s administration has an ongoing and steadfast commitment to presenting public art throughout the five boroughs," said Deputy Mayor Harris. "We could not be more excited that world renowned, New York City artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude will present this extraordinary work of art here in Central Park. This is a defining moment in our City’s cultural history and I hope everyone will take advantage of the opportunity to experience it."

"Central Park has played host to scores of temporary works over its history," said Commissioner Benepe. "Many New Yorkers have been anticipating the unveiling of The Gates for 25 years and we are nearing that day. The Central Park Conservancy has worked closely with Christo and Jeanne-Claude to facilitate the safe installation of the work. We look forward to welcoming millions of viewers, including art aficionados from around the world, to the park in February."

The load-in of materials will begin on December 1, 2004. The slow delivery will minimize impact on the City, the Park and its users during the installation. Throughout December eight trucks a day will enter the park with the steel bases that will be used to support the gates. Trucks will enter Central Park at 102nd Street and 5th Avenue and deposit the materials on one section of the 102nd Street closed road, leaving more than half open for public use. The trucks will exit at 100th Street and Central Park West. There will be signs and flagers informing pedestrians and cyclists of the trucks. Security will also be provided 24 hours a day. Materials will begin to be distributed within the park on January 3rd, when the steel bases will be sent to their designated locations. On February 7th the vinyl poles (3 pieces) and the fabric panels will be distributed to their drop zones. Assigned teams will assemble the materials as they are delivered. The fabric will be unfurled on February 12th, weather permitting.

The Central Park Conservancy will provide a number of services to enhance the enjoyment of The Gates. Warming huts will be set up at visitor centers located throughout the park: the Dairy Visitor Center, Chess and Checkers House, Belvedere Castle, the Charles A. Dana Center, and the North Meadow Recreation Center. In addition to providing a place to rest and escape the cold, the huts will offer information on The Gates, as well as souvenir products such as posters, postcards, T-shirts, caps, maps and other merchandise. Christo and Jeanne-Claude receive no income from the sales of this merchandise and all proceeds go to Nurture New York’s Nature Inc. (a nonprofit supporting arts and the environment), Central Park and other New York City parks. Guided trolley tours and walking tours will be offered February 12 through 27. Trolleys will loop the park from 59th Street to 110th Street and allow people to get off along the way and re-board at any stop. More information on services will be available on the Conservancy’s website: www.centralparknyc.org.

To enable public school students to take advantage of The Gates, the New York City Department of Education has created an instructional guide for students and. The guide will be distributed to all Regional Arts Supervisors and it will also be available for students and teachers on the Project Arts website: www.nycenet.edu/projectarts. Included in the guide are questions for on-site discussion, ideas for art making and guidelines for exploration and research.

"We are committed to providing a quality arts education for every child," said Chancellor Klein. "The Gates will provide a unique and exciting learning experience for our city’s students. The guide we created aligns with our new Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in the Visual Arts and the combination will provide our students, at every grade level, with an exceptional, world-class experience, executed in their own backyard."

Following a trip to The Gates, visitors are encouraged to warm up in one of the myriad cultural attractions within walking distance. The Metropolitan Museum of Art will allow its visitors to enjoy The Gates from its roof garden (the first time the roof has been open during the winter). With easy access by bus and subway, visitors can also treat themselves to the countless museums, galleries, performing arts centers, zoos and botanical gardens throughout the city.

"The Gates offers New York City an unprecedented opportunity to highlight the many cultural attractions surrounding Central Park as well as the vast array of visual arts organizations throughout the five boroughs," said Commissioner Levin. "This is a thrilling project that will serve to reshape how we look at a familiar and beloved landscape and inspire New Yorkers and visitors alike to explore the City’s rich cultural landscape."

"The Gates will not only be an artistic milestone in our city’s rich cultural history, it will help generate tourism dollars for New York City through an influx of domestic and international visitors," said Cristyne L. Nicholas. "In addition to experiencing the splendor of The Gates, these visitors will also dine out, see a show, stay in a hotel, take a tour or visit a museum, bolstering New York City’s economy during the slow winter season."

NYC & Company, the City’s official tourism marketing organization, is actively promoting The Gates to domestic and international visitor markets through travel wholesale marketing, incentive and tour travel development and travel media outlets which have already generated valuable bookings during a traditionally slow period for New York City’s economy. The Gates is promoted in New York City’s official tourism marketing publications, including the cover of the Winter/Spring Official Guide.

New York City will welcome key groups from Asia, Europe and across the United States during The Gates, such as Japanese educational tour groups, a Daimler-Chrysler corporate reward group, and travel groups from Germany. International visitors, while comprising only 18% of New York City’s total visitor volume, represent 42% of the total visitor spending. In addition, a number of hotels, cultural organizations and restaurants throughout the city—including The Surrey Hotel, The Benjamin and The Bedford—are offering special promotions during The Gates. A full list of special offers and events will be available on www.nycvisit.com.

Visitor spending in New York City supports nearly 300,000 jobs in all five boroughs and generates $3 billion in city, state and federal tax revenues. Spending by cultural visitors to New York results in $12 billion of that economic impact and makes up nearly 70% of the lucrative international visitor market.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced the approval of The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005 on January 22, 2003. The temporary work of art will stretch across pedestrian paths throughout the park from 59th Street to 110th Street. Each of the gates will stand 16 feet high and vary from 6 to 18 feet in width. Free-hanging fabric panels suspended from the top will drop to approximately 7 feet above ground. The gates will be spaced at 12-foot intervals, except where low branches extend above the walkway. The artists envision a "golden ceiling creating warm shadows" for passersby to enjoy as they walk through The Gates. For the City’s official website on The Gates visit: http://www.nyc.gov/html/thegates/home.html or call 311 (212-NEW-YORK) for more information.

The Central Park Conservancy worked closely with Christo and Jeanne-Claude to ensure that the installation of the project will not disturb the maintenance and management of the park and no holes will be dug in the ground. In addition, no gates will be installed in areas with high concentrations of birds or other wildlife. The Gates is providing employment for hundreds of New York City residents in assembly, installation, maintenance, security, and removal. Most of the materials used in the project will be recycled following the removal.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude do not accept any forms of sponsorship and are financing the entire cost of The Gates. The public will bear no expense of any kind. The artists also donated $3 million to the City for programs and operations both in Central Park and in other City parks.

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High-resolution digital images for publication can be provided by Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s exclusive photographer, Wolfgang Volz, by email: w.volz@gmx.net; fax: 49-211-966-0446; website: www.wolfgangvolz.com. All images are copyrighted.

For video footage of the press conference, email Seth Unger, NYC TV: sunger@doitt.nyc.gov.

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