Nine months after COVID-19 shut down the entire live events industry across the country in mid-March, there finally appears to be a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel, at least for New Yorkers.
On Friday it was reported that musicians, dancers, comedians, and other performing arts organizations within New York City will finally be able to return to utilizing public outdoor spaces for ticketed events and performances beginning on March 1st, and continuing through the spring and summer months. A unanimous decision voted on by the City Council on Thursday approves of any “DCLA and Borough Arts Council funded artist and cultural organizations, venues or institutions to be able to utilize public outdoor spaces for ticketed events,” Gothamist reports.
The approved “Open Culture” program, as its being branded, begins on March 1st, and continues until October 31st, allowing musicians, comedians, or dancers to no longer have to rely on secret/private or pop-up outdoor performances to share their gifts with a city in desperate need of being entertained. All performances must take place outdoors at approved locations as part of the city’s Open Streets initiative, in addition to any street in all five NYC boroughs that have been designated by the Department Of Transportation in consultation with local council members.
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Any performer, artist, or venue will have the opportunity to partner with an eligible organization for public performance permits, and numerous application fees will be waived with the maximum charge lowered to $20.
“Arts and culture are the lifeblood of our city,” NYC Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said with the announcement. “With the new Open Culture program, artists and art groups can start staging performances – and charge for them – starting March 1. There will be dancing, singing & comedy on the streets bringing joy and jobs to thousands. We need to use our City’s space in new and creative ways to make sure the cultural community. This new law will be a dynamic and transformative program for our cultural community and will create a dynamic open space use—a true win-win.”
Fans should note, however, that any ticketed events in the city come next year will still have to abide by COVID-19 reopening guidelines set by New York State officials, which may or may not have loosened up by spring.
Central Park SummerStage General Manager Larry Siegel tells Live For Live Music, “Unfortunately, this legislation doesn’t change any of the NYS guidelines. It only says that the permitting process in New York City should allow for culture in open spaces as it does for the outdoor restaurant effort. State rules supersede city rules and gathering of more than 10 [people] can’t happen [as of right now]. We shall see how all this unfolds though.”
Any performer or attendee participating in any outdoor event sanctioned by the city will still have to abide by the state and city COVID guidelines.
After an unanimous vote in the Council the new Open Culture program will bring song, dance, comedy, & performances to our streets – starting March 1st.
A big win for our artists and cultural venues, bringing joy & jobs to thousands! pic.twitter.com/nyznb8dZEx
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) December 10, 2020