Though New Yorkers have already gotten creative with keeping the arts alive during the pandemic, there is now an official New York State program that will be bringing outdoor pop-up performances right to the streets of NYC!
The program — called “NY Pops Up” — was announced February 8 by Governor Cuomo, and will bring over 300 performances to NY featuring music, comedy, theater, and more, all kicking off on February 20 right here in NYC, at the Javits Center. Most will be free of cost, and all will be open to the public. [featured image source: Video Still, @jenavanel]
Not only will the festival provide entertainment, and work for local arts professionals, it will also serve as a “pilot program” for how to hold safe live performances in the era of COVID-19.
The kick-off on Feb. 20 will feature a special tribute to our essential healthcare workers, featuring Jon Batiste, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and Ayodele Casel. Though it will start at Javits, the group will then travel across the city, performing for the public everywhere from parks to street corners, and at locations like the Flushing Post Office, Elmhurst Hospital, and St. Barnabas Hospital.
So what’s the catch? Most often, these performances will not be announced far in advance. Aimed at providing special experiences for those within the community and not attracting big crowds, the events will be impromptu and more of a “surprise.” So you’ll just have to hope they come to your neighborhood! You can also follow them on social at @NYPopsUp (Twitter here and Instagram here) to find out the latest.
As the festival continues, it will keep expanding…in number of performances, size of performance, locations, and more. The festival will run through the summer and end Labor Day Weekend, culminating in both the 20th Anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival June 9-20 and the new Little Island‘s giant summer festival August 11-September 5, which will entail an average of 16 events per day, totaling 325 performances by 500 different artists!
Here are some other noteworthy performances that will be coming:
Patti Smith performing at the Brooklyn Museum in remembrance of the passing of Robert Mapplethorpe.
Partnership with “Works & Process” at the Guggenheim, that will take brilliant new performances beyond the famed Rotunda to locations around the boroughs. These collaborations include George Gershwin’s anthem to New York City, Rhapsody in Blue, performed by New York’s own pianist and composer, Conrad Tao, with new choreography by Caleb Teicher; The Missing Element, a beatbox and street dance collaboration, featuring Chris Celiz and Anthony Rodriguez’s “Invertebrate”; and Masterz at Work Dance Family performing a brand-new dance by choreographer Courtney ToPanga Washington.
A series of performances in storefront windows, amplified out onto the street, from artists Gavin Creel, J’Nai Bridges, Davóne Tines, Bobbi Jene Smith, Or Schraiber, and more.
A new live radio show hosted by Chris Thile, broadcast from stoops all over New York State, from Brooklyn and the East Village to the steps of Albany’s Empire State Plaza across from the Capitol building.
A series of dynamic and participatory performances created by Ayodele Casel taking place in the lobbies of free museums throughout the City of New York, including the Brooklyn Museum and Queens Museum.
Also today (Feb. 8), NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city-specific “Open Culture” program would be starting soon, bringing performances to the NYC streets as well.
It sounds like NYC is going to basically become one giant open-air theater this spring! We can’t wait!