Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined a plan Tuesday to stage outdoor concerts and create jobs for artists this winter in an effort to accelerate the return of arts and Broadway to the state.
In the second part of his State of the State address, Cuomo announced the creation of New York Arts Revival, a public-private partnership which will stage outdoor pop-up events and performances with more than 150 artists including Amy Schumer, Hugh Jackman, Ars Nova and the National Black Theatre. Theater producer Scott Rudin and film producer Jane Rosenthal will lead the effort alongside the New York State Council on the Arts.
“One thing is clear: we must act. We cannot wait until summer to turn the lights back on the arts and provide a living wage to artists,” Cuomo said.
Performances will begin Feb. 4. at outdoor sites in New York City as well as at state parks and other state properties. Cuomo said the council will also use venues such as St. Ann’s Warehouse, Park Avenue Armory and the Queens Theatre while utilizing social distancing.
These events are meant to serve as a model for reopening the arts, Cuomo said. The next step is testing out other options for indoor venues.
“We will also begin piloting large indoor spaces with testing and ventilation to explore what possible safe and smart options exist,” he said.
Broadway theaters, which are closed through at least May 30, 2021, are not currently involved in the pilot program.
In his address, Cuomo also announced the creation of the Creative Rebuild Initiative, launched in partnership with Elizabeth Alexander, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which aims to put more than 1,000 artists back to work and fund community arts groups.
Overall, Cuomo outlined an approach of using rapid testing to gradually reopen the economy, rather than waiting to reach herd immunity from the vaccine — a milestone for which he said the state could not afford to wait. This approach was tested last Saturday at a Buffalo Bills football game attended by 7,000 fans, who all received rapid COVID-19 tests from the New York State’s Department of Health ahead of time. The participants are being monitored for positive cases, but so far the event appears to be a success, Cuomo said.
Moving forward, Cuomo plans to open hundreds of rapid testing locations across the state, so that patrons can potentially receive a 15-minute rapid test before attending an event or socializing.
“Why can’t we use rapid testing to open restaurants in our orange zones, theaters, offices?” he asked.
The governor emphasized that he sees the return of the arts and Broadway as a crucial to part of the state’s recovery, both as a job creator and as a contributor to local economies.
“New York City is not New York without Broadway,” Cuomo said.