Have you herd? New York City's CowParade 2000 is under way and local area artists have ensured that many of Broadway's most recognizable shows--and brands--are featured prominently in the citywide civic art program.
Among the shows and brands captured in memorable and often humorous representation are Chicago, Miss Saigon, Rent, Annie Get Your Gun and a take on Playbill's very own trademark, "Playbull."
The summer program began June 15 and runs through Labor Day. In all, 500 of the 500-pound fiberglass cows have been decorated in various styles and placed throughout the city. Measuring between six and seven feet long each, half the cows are displayed in city parks and the rest are displayed for public viewing on private property.
The cows representing the shows mentioned above are located at the northeast corner of Bryant Park, just west of Fifth Avenue at 42 Street.
The Playbull cow was created by artists Celia Lu, Nicole Ng and Katherine Kim, and was sponsored by the BASF corporation. In what may have been a double nod to both the growing prevalence of corporate sponsorships on Broadway and the venerable show business spirit, each of the Playbull artists, Lu, Ng and Kim, showed some pluck and signed their Playbull artwork by naming imaginary "theatres" after themselves. The sponsors of individual cows chose from three available models, which range in price from $10,000 to $25,000. When the city exhibits close, some sponsors (corporations) keep their cows, but others auction them off as was done through Sotheby's in Chicago. The Windy City auctions raised $2.1 million through the auction house, with an additional $1.4 million being raised through a separate Internet auction for a total of $3.5 million. The CowParades also boost tourism, organizers claim. The Zurich exhibit involved 800 cows and was said to have brought in 1 million additional tourists and an estimated $3 million in revenues for local charities, which benefitted from the post-exhibit sale of the cows.
CowParade Worldwide, Inc. comprises American and Swiss interests. CowParades have taken place in Zurich and Chicago (both in 1999), as well as New York City, West Orange, NJ and Stamford, Conn. (the latter three are ongoing).
-- By Murdoch McBride