Libraries’ Culture Pass Signs Up 70,000 in First Year

THE NEW YORK TIMES — August 13, 2019 — It’s been one year since public library cardholders in New York’s five boroughs were given expanded — and free — access to the arts through the citywide Culture Pass initiative.

Since the program’s beginning in July 2018, over 70,000 people seem to have taken the libraries up on their offer and signed up for the pass, the city’s public libraries said Tuesday.

Cardholders at the Brooklyn, New York and Queens public libraries can gain free admission through the program at participating cultural institutions that include museums, performance venues, botanical gardens and historical societies. Patrons reserve free passes for their institution of choice on the Culture Pass website and can bring up to three guests.

A significant portion of those 70,000 signed up relatively early on, however: The New York Public Library, which serves Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, had more than 12,000 people sign up online in the initiative’s first week. In that early rush, tickets through the program ran out for several institutions, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Seventeen new institutions were added to the list after the start of the initiative — bringing the total number of participants up to 50.

Among the new additions were three performance venues, including The Shed, the $475 million arts center at the Hudson Yards plaza.

The Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park performances were also added to the list. The shows are already free, but library cardholders were able to request tickets online through the Culture Pass website rather than wait in line in Central Park or pick up tickets at one of the Public’s ticket distribution centers in the other boroughs.

Other notable additions included the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden and the Second Stage Theater.

Read the full piece here.