NY PopsUp will bring star-studded live performances back to New York this year
New York is fast approaching the one-year anniversary of its world-famous theater stages being shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19. The pandemic has been hard on all Americans over the past year, but now that vaccine doses are starting to roll out, New York is unveiling its plans for bringing back public live performances in a safe way — with the help of some major stars.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that the city would be proceeding with NY PopsUp, a festival that will consist of hundreds of pop-up performances across New York state. NY PopsUp is set to begin Feb. 20, and run through Labor Day on Sep. 6. Though the Feb. 20 performance will take place at the Javits Center, the full run of performances (which are planned to total at least 1,000) will be spread geographically across very part of New York City and state. The program will climax in the fall with a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival and the opening of Little Island at Pier 55.
All of the performances will be viewable online, and Cuomo said the government will not be giving out specific information about them ahead of time in order to keep crowds from getting too big. These performances, which are being curated by the interdisciplinary artist Zack Winokur and a council of other artists, will "make stages out of New York's existing landscapes" such as iconic transit stations, parks, subway platforms, museums, skate parks, street corners, fire escapes, parking lots, and storefronts. Iconic venues such as The SHED, The Apollo, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, and The Glimmerglass Festival's Alice Busch Opera Theater will be converted into multidisciplinary flexible venues, or "flex venues," to allow for indoor performances that include safe social distancing.
Although we don't know exactly what kind of performances they'll be giving, the initial announcement listed Hugh Jackman, Renée Fleming, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patti Smith, Mandy Patinkin, J'Nai Bridges, Kenan Thompson, Gavin Creel, Garth Fagan, Larry Owens, Q-Tip, and Billy Porter as participants, with more to come.
"Cities have taken a real blow during COVID, and the economy will not come back fast enough on its own - we must bring it back," Cuomo said in a statement. "Creative synergies are vital for cities to survive, and our arts and cultural industries have been shut down all across the country, taking a terrible toll on workers and the economy. We want to be aggressive with reopening the State and getting our economy back on track, and NY PopsUp will be an important bridge to the broader reopening of our world-class performance venues and institutions. New York has been a leader throughout this entire pandemic, and we will lead once again with bringing back the arts."