New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took an important step forward in reopening the state’s artistic communities on Monday with the announcement of NY PopsUp. The statewide arts festival will see over 300 performances from a variety of artists over 100 days. NY PopsUp is set to begin on February 20th and run through Labor Day.
The festivities will begin on February 20th in New York City with a free performance at the Javits Center by Jon Batiste, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and Ayodele Casel who will then travel across the city’s five boroughs to perform in parks, street corners, and outside Elmhurst Hospital and St. Barnabas Hospital.
These free events will take place throughout the spring and summer primarily at outdoor locations such as parks, street corners, parking lots, museums, subway platforms, and even fire escapes. Governor Cuomo also stated that some shows will take place at venues without fixed seats that could therefore be readjusted to accommodate social distancing such as The Shed, The Apollo Theater, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, and The Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater.
Film producers Scott Rudin (No Country for Old Men, Lady Bird) and Jane Rosenthal (Tribeca Film Festival) have been selected to run NY PopsUp. The series of events will serve as a “pilot program” to determine how to best reintroduce live events across the state. In an effort to limit the size of the crowds, many of the shows will not be announced in advance. Though the full lineup has not been revealed, future performances have been announced from Chris Rock, Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin, Patti Smith, Q-Tip, Aparna Nancherla, Dev Hynes, Mandy Patkin, and Renée Fleming.
“We’re trying to thread the needle,” Cuomo told The New York Times. “We want the performances. We don’t want mass gatherings, we don’t want large crowds.”
The state has set up new Twitter and Instagram accounts, @NYPopsUp, that will reveal details about upcoming performances. Many will also be shown online.
This announcement came on the same day that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio launched the city’s “Open Culture” initiative. Beginning on March 1st, the city will open up to 115 designated public spaces for live, ticketed performances. Entertainers will be able to apply for a performance permit ahead of time and the city will assign an area best suited for the act.
“It will bring stages to our neighborhoods, and culture to the heart of our neighbors, and [will] give artists, cultural institutions, and creatives a place to showcase their talents as they recover from the pandemic,” NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals said during the press conference.