Cuomo Announces Pop-Up Performances Across New York


New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, who has made it clear that he sees the return of arts and culture as key elements in the state’s economic revitalization, announced Monday that a series of more than 300 free pop-up performances will be held “NY PopsUp” would begin February 20th and run through Labor Day.

Mayor Bill de Blasio meanwhile announced details of the city’s Open Culture program, which will allow outdoor performances on designated streets of the city in the spring.

The state’s pop-up events are part of a public-private partnership, New York Arts Revival, and will feature more than 150 artists, including Amy Schumer, Chris Rock, Mandy Patinkin, Renée Fleming and Hugh Jackman.

Because the state does not want to attract large crowds to the pandemic, many of the events are not announced in advance.

“We’re trying to thread the needle,” said Mr. Cuomo. “We want the performances. We don’t want mass gatherings, we don’t want large crowds. “

The events, according to the state, will take place in parks, museums and parking lots, as well as on subway platforms and in transit stations. People can follow a new Twitter and Instagram account, @NYPopsUp, for details on upcoming gigs. Many are shown online.

The series is co-directed by producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal with the New York State Council for Art and Empire State Development. It’s part of an arts revival plan that the governor announced during a January address when he said the state would organize the pop-up performances from February 4th.

The series begins on February 20 at the Javits Center in New York City with a free performance for health care workers starring Jon Batiste, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and Ayodele Casel. Performers will travel across town in all five boroughs, performing in parks and street corners, as well as on the trail of Elmhurst Hospital and St. Barnabas Hospital.

Mr Cuomo said some of the events would use flexible venues with no fixed seating and could therefore be reconfigured to allow social distancing, including the Shed, Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, La MaMa and the Alice Busch Opera Glimmerglass Festival Theater.

In June, the opening of Little Island, the park-like pier built by Barry Diller on the downtown Hudson River, and the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival will add to the city’s growing arts program.

Little Island plans to have its own festival from August 11th to September 5th, coinciding with the final weeks of programming “NY PopsUp”.

Mr de Blasio announced on Monday that the city would start a new program to help some of the city’s cultural institutions apply for federal grants. The city’s effort, called Curtains Up NYC, will provide webinars and advice to businesses and nonprofits that are in some way related to live performances.

“We have to make sure that New York’s cultural institutions get the help they need,” said de Blasio at a press conference.

When asked if Broadway theaters could reopen while his plans to revive the arts continue, Mr Cuomo expressed hope.

“I think this is where we are going, right?” he said. “The overall effort is directed towards reopening with testing.”

He announced last week that the state intends to issue guidelines to allow wedding ceremonies for up to 150 guests if the participants are tested beforehand.

“Would I see a play and sit in a playhouse with 150 people?” he said. “If the 150 people were tested and they were all negative, I would do that. And the social distancing and ventilation system are right? Yes i would. “

Commercial producers have repeatedly said that Broadway’s economy precludes reopening at less than full capacity.

New York reported at least 177 new coronavirus deaths and 9,923 new cases on Sunday. While the number of new cases has fallen from a high after last month’s vacation, the average number of new daily cases and deaths is still well above the summer and fall levels.

Mr Cuomo said the government must take an active role in helping the city and state recover from the economic troubles of the pandemic. “It won’t be a situation where the economy will just return,” he said. “We have to make sure it comes back.”

“New York leads,” he added. “And we will bring the arts back.”

Michael Gold contributed to the coverage.



Robert Dunfee