Lisa Richards had no problem recounting memorable auditions for a new program to bring live music performances to Metro stops.
Hip-hop artists, whistlers and even a 1950s inspired singing quartet inundated the Metro headquarters May 10 and 12, vying for the opportunity to become paid performers at Metro stops throughout the district. There were a total of 109 auditions.
“They were all compelling,” said the arts program coordinator for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Metroperforms!, a Metro pilot program created with the help of the commission, will sponsor live performances at D.C. Metro stops in efforts to bring music to a diverse demographic and provide opportunities for emerging artists, according to Richards.
“There is no ticket price,” Richards said. “We’re bringing art to the people.”
Metro came to the commission to help launch the program because of their experience working with performers. Outside of Metroperforms!, the commission provides opportunities for D.C. artists and works to bring art to the people, according to Richards.
“This was right up our alley,” Richards said. “What a way to enliven the city!”
Metro is also currently working with counties in Virginia and Maryland to expand the program.
Five people involved in the D.C. music and art scene judged the performers, who will be officially selected over the next few weeks, Richards said. Performances will begin later this summer and will occur during lunchtime and the evening rush, The Washington Post reported.
Michael Woods, human resources chief at Busboys and Poets, a restaurant and coffee shop that hosts poetry slams and live music, judged the auditions. His co-workers selected him as their representative based on his background in the performing arts.
Despite having done a lot of work in children’s and vocal theater, he said judging the auditions was an “exciting experience.”
“There was a great diversity of opinion among the judges, as well as a great diversity of performers,” Woods said.
He said the program will enhance the experience of riding public transportation.
“It exposes the community to art forms, genres and cultures they wouldn’t seek out on their own,” he said.
Kristell LeGoff, a sophomore in SIS, said the performers could make her commute more interesting.
“I think that by having performers, the whole waiting for the Metro to arrive could be a more enjoyable experience,” LeGoff said in an e-mail. “I’ve always liked seeing what talents people have, especially the unusual ones.”
The program could enhance the tourist experience of riding the Metro, according to Rebecca Pawlowski, director of communications for the Washington, D.C., Convention and Tourism Corporation.
“Tourists consider the Metro a unique part of the city,” Pawlowski said. “This adds another way to increase the enjoyment of riding public transportation.”
Since Metro will pay the selected performers for their work, Metroperforms! also provides opportunities for artists, Woods said.
“It can be difficult making a living doing what you love,” he said. “This benefits the performers because they can share their craft with the community.”
Richards said she ultimately thought the program will transform the commute.
“We spend so much time in the rat race,” she said. “It’s nice to take in something pleasant.”
However, Laura Krachman, a sophomore in SIS, said she didn’t think having performers at Metro stops would affect her commute.
“When I take the Metro, I generally want to get to my destination as quickly as possible for the lowest possible price,” she said in an e-mail. “I usually hope that I won’t be waiting for a Metro car long enough to need entertainment.”
Krachman said she was also concerned about the cost of the program.
“Personally, I’m disappointed to hear the Metro is spending money on unnecessary entertainment,” she said.
On the other hand, LeGoff said she thought the performers could help create a sense of community on public transportation.
“If people gathered around to watch, they would no longer be pretending that the people waiting near them don’t exist,” she said in an e-mail.