Gov. Cuomo Announces NY PopsUp Festival, Arena Reopening To Spark State’s Return To Live

Little Island
– Little Island
A rendering of Little Island, a development at Pier 55 on the Hudson River in New York that will open as a part of the NY PopsUp Festival recently announced by Governor Andrew Cuomo.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the NY PopsUp Festival on Feb. 8, a pilot program to pioneer the return of the state’s devastated live entertainment industry, and announced Feb. 10 that arenas and stadiums with capacities over 10,000 could begin hosting events at 10% capacity as of Feb. 23. 
The festival will be a series of more than 1,000 pop-up events staged throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Long Island, and Upstate New York, beginning on Feb. 20 and concluding on Labor Day. 
All events produced by NY PopsUp will be free of charge and will take place in a variety of locations including transit stations, subway platforms, museums, skate parks, street corners, parks, fire escapes and skate parks. In the first 100 days of the festival more than 300 such performances are planned.
The festival is part of a larger plan to reopen New York. The Governor’s office explained that as performances stage in nontraditional venues safely during PopsUp, confidence can be built to open multidisciplinary “flex venues” throughout New York State, which will mark the first indoor performances since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of flex venues include The SHED, The Apollo, Harlem Stage, La MaMa and The Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater.
“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 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.” 
The festival is being programmed by a council of artistic advisors including Jon Batiste, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Wynton Marsalis, Cécile McLorin Salvant, Chris Tile, Whitney White and Julio Torres. The committee is charged with inviting other artists to participate in the festival and provide performances. Artists already confirmed to participate include Hugh Jackman, Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Patti Smith, Q-Tip, Billy Porter, Rhiannon Giddens and many others. 
NY PopsUp will open with a kickoff performance from Jon Batiste, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Ayodele Casel and other special guests at the Javits Center on Feb. 20.
As a part of NY PopsUp, the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival will be held June 9-20. 
NY PopsUp will also mark the opening of Little Island, the public park with a performance space at Pier 55 on the Hudson River funded by Barry Diller. Little Island will begin hosting shows in June will host The Festival at Little Island from Aug. 11 to Sept. 5 with an average of 16 events per day, for a total of 325 performances by approximately 500 artists.
The New York Independent Venue Association, the New York chapter of NIVA, expressed support for the NY PopsUp Festival and sent a statement to Pollstar saying: “NYIVA embraces any program that helps the artistic community and is heartened to see the governor recognize the intrinsic value of the arts and culture. Our sector supports over 25,000 jobs statewide, generates $2.2 billion in economic output, serves as community anchors and economic drivers, and is the fabric of NY cultural life. 
“NYIVA was not part of the NYPopsUp planning but we applaud Governor Cuomo’s commitment to revitalize New York’s entertainment sector. As ambassadors for New York’s resident artists, NYIVA and its members look forward to working in partnership with Governor Cuomo on further initiatives that will re-ignite the creative economy, get arts workers and venues back to work, and revitalize neighborhoods and local businesses throughout the state.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo also broke the news Feb. 10 that major New York stadiums and arenas can welcome back fans for sports and entertainment events with a limited capacity beginning Feb. 23. That day Barclays Center is set to host a Brooklyn Nets home game with 10% capacity when the Nets play the Sacramento Kings, marking the first game with fans in the building since COVID restrictions were implemented. Protocols for that game will include a PCR test administered within 72 hours of the game, mandatory temperature checks, social distancing, use of face masks and special cleaning and sanitation procedures.