NYC cultural institutions would be allowed to put on performances outdoors, under proposed bill

August 25, 2020

Photo by Paulo Silva on Unsplash

A New York City Council member will introduce a bill this week that would allow cultural institutions to set up events and exhibits outdoor, the New York Daily News first reported. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents parts of Queens and is chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee, wants the city to give nonprofit groups space to perform on parking lots, streets, and parks. “The city of New York is the cultural capital of the world and right now it’s a city that’s a little sad,” Van Bramer told the Daily News. “The city of New York without music and dance and theater is just not the same New York.”

Van Bramer added: “We can’t crowd into small theaters. So let the small theaters and smaller organization that may want to set up exhibits outside come to us.”

All ticketed, live entertainment events and performances in New York City have been on hold since mid-March when Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his statewide “pause” order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Although some museums and indoor cultural institutions can start reopening this week at limited capacity, Broadway, Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, and others will all remain dark for the rest of the year.

Even as some city institutions prepare to reopen in the coming weeks, many museums and other organizations have been forced to significantly cut their budgets and lay off staff. A recent survey from the American Alliance of Museums reported that one-third of museum directors around the United States said their institutions risked not being able to reopen next year without additional financial support.

Currently, as part of the state’s enforcement of COVID-19 regulations at bars and restaurants, the State Liquor Authority said establishments cannot sell tickets for live entertainment events.

“All other forms of live entertainment, such as exotic dancing, comedy shows, karaoke etc., are not permissible currently regardless of phase,” according to the SLA’s website. Music “should be incidental to the dining experience and not the draw itself,” according to the agency.

Van Bramer’s legislation, which will be introduced on Thursday, would be modeled after the city’s outdoor dining program, which lets restaurants set up seating on sidewalks, curbside, patios, and on some streets closed to cars.

According to the Daily News, like the Open Restaurants initiative, cultural groups would be able to apply for permitted outdoor space with the Department of Transportation and then self-certify that social distancing protocols are being met, under the proposed legislation.

“Getting performers & artists out again and allowing them to sing, dance, and entertain is imperative for their survival, and for the survival of the people of New York City,” Van Bramer tweeted on Tuesday. “I’m excited to introduce this new legislation and bring culture to the public.”

[Via NY Daily News]


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