In her ninth season as executive director of the Lehman Center for the Performing Arts Eva Bornstein said she approaches her job with a fervent sense of accountability.
“I select the acts and I hope to some degree people will trust my judgment and support me by purchasing tickets and attending the shows,” said Ms. Bornstein, who introduces the performers before every event.
Scheduling performances to both match the diverse population of the Bronx and to bring those people together is a driving force behind Ms. Bornstein’s selections.
“We have salsa and tango dancers for the Hispanic and Latin members of the community, but they can also enjoy watching a Russian ballet company dance,” Ms. Bornstein said. “Our Russian and European neighbors will look forward to the ballet but they can experience and learn about salsa and tango dancing.”
Ms. Bornstein says her artistic philosophy is to not simply provide a varied selection of acts, but to present the highest quality performers.
“Whatever kind of performing art we decide to present, I want the best — ballet, salsa, tango, folk dance, gospel,” Ms. Bornstein said, listing a small sampling of Lehman’s offerings this season.
Ms. Bornstein said she begins to schedule performances at least two years in advance.
“Some of these groups are traveling thousands of miles with a 100 or more performers,” Ms. Bornstein said. “To work the logistics out in detail can take years.”
The Performing Arts Center is located on the campus of Lehman College. The school owns the building but charges no rent, while providing salaries to three full-time secretaries to the center.
The operating cost of the performing arts center is primarily publicly funded with the addition of grants and ticket sales.
Last year the Bronx Borough President’s Office of Ruben Diaz Jr. earmarked $1 million to help the center install a new video system for use in its multimedia performances, which this season includes a Nov. 9 appearance by the impressionist Jeff Tracta.
Meanwhile, the center strives to offer top-tier performers at modest prices to attract families and residents of all ages from a range of income levels.
“You don’t have to go to Manhattan to view world-class cultural entertainment,” Ms. Borstein says. “We are the Lincoln Center of the Bronx and we are much more affordable.”
Ms. Bornstein says she continues to reach out to Bronxites and hopes that all in the borough feel welcome to attend performances at Lehman this season. “I aim high to please and educate,” she said. “This season, there is something here for everyone.”