NY PopsUp, an unprecedented and expansive festival featuring hundreds of pop-up performances that will intersect with the daily lives of New Yorkers, has been announced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. This series of events is intended to revitalize the spirit and emotional well-being of New York citizens with the energy of live performance while jumpstarting New York’s struggling live entertainment sector. Many of the performances are free of charge and all are open to the public. NY PopsUp will launch on Saturday, February 20, and run through Labor Day.
The Festival will serve as a “pilot program,” creating the state’s first large-scale model for how to bring live performance back safely after this prolonged COVID-related shutdown. The programming for NY PopsUp will be curated by the interdisciplinary artist Zack Winokur, in partnership with a hand-selected council of artistic advisors who represent the diversity of New York’s dynamic performing arts scene and artistic communities. The Festival will reach its climax with the 20th Anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival and The Festival at Little Island at Pier 55, bringing the total number of performances to more than 1,000. NY PopsUp is being coordinated in lockstep with state public health officials and will strictly adhere to Department of Health (DOH) COVID-19 protocols.
The public will encounter a range of artists representing all areas of performance – from theater to dance, from poetry to comedy, from pop music to opera, and so much more. Among the confirmed artists are Hugh Jackman, Renée Fleming, Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Isabel Leonard, Nico Muhly, Joyce DiDonato, John Early, and Kate Berlant, Patti Smith, Mandy Patinkin, Raja Feather Kelly, J’Nai Bridges, Kenan Thompson, Gavin Creel, Garth Fagan, Larry Owens, Q-Tip, Billy Porter, Conrad Tao, Bobbi Jene Smith and Or Schraiber, Tina Landau, Rhiannon Giddens, Aparna Nancherla, Anthony Rodriguez, Jonathan Groff, Savion Glover, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, Chris Celiz, Christine Goerke, Kelli O’Hara, Dev Hynes, Phoebe Robinson, Sara Mearns, George Saunders, Caleb Teicher, Danielle Brooks, Jeremy Denk, Idina Menzel, Sondra Radvanovsky, Gaby Moreno, Davóne Tines, Jerrod Carmichael, Taylor Mac, Sutton Foster, Jessie Mueller, and Courtney ToPanga Washington, among many others. The events themselves will ignite imaginative collisions of different artforms.
“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,” Governor Cuomo said. “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.”
The events produced by NY PopsUp, in addition to being free of charge, will be staged across every type of neighborhood and district in all five boroughs of New York City, throughout upstate and into Western New York. As the current realities of COVID-19 make mass gatherings and large, destination-style events impossible, NY PopsUp will meet New York City and State residents where they are, infusing their daily lives with the surprise and joy of live performance. The hundreds of free, pop-up events that constitute NY PopsUp will make stages out of New York’s existing landscapes, including iconic transit stations, parks, subway platforms, museums, skate parks, street corners, fire escapes, parking lots, storefronts, and upstate venues, transforming everyday commutes, local communities, and locations never used for performances into canvases of awe and exhilaration. Instead of there being masses of audience members at a handful of events, this Festival is a mass of events, each for a safe and secure ‘handful’ of audience members.
As COVID restrictions begin to loosen, the model that NY PopsUp builds for holding safe live events will pave the way for, and incept the reopening of, multidisciplinary flexible venues (“flex venues”) throughout New York State to open and participate in the Festival. These will be the very first indoor performances since the pandemic began and will mark a major moment in New York’s recovery efforts. Not only will these indoor events be a symbol to the entire world that New York is back, they will also be a key step in the long process of getting tens-of-thousands of arts professionals around New York State back to work; and a bridge to getting Broadway and all of the New York cultural world open. These Flex Venues are established union and non-union performance spaces without fixed seating and are thus able to be adapted for social distancing. Examples of these venues would include The SHED, The Apollo, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, and The Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater. All indoor events will strictly follow the Department of Health public health and safety guidance.
During the run of the festival, NY PopsUp will grow in its scale, volume of performances, and geographical footprint, with events throughout New York State, from the Bronx to Staten Island, from Buffalo to Suffolk County, from the Hudson Valley to the Capitol.
More details about NY PopsUp will be announced soon. Please note that, given the impromptu nature and surprise element of the pop-up format, not all performances will be announced in advance. Please follow @NYPopsUp on Twitter and Instagram for the latest.
NY PopsUp is a private/public partnership overseen by producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal, in coordination with the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA)and Empire State Development (ESD).
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