NY Pop-Up Arts Festival Kicks Off With Javits Center All-Star Show – NBC New York

What to Know

  • New York announced the launch of NY PopsUp, an arts festival featuring hundreds of free pop-up performances throughout the state, including New York City — all in an effort to accelerate the return of the arts and culture scene
  • The pop-up-centric festival will serve as a pilot program for creating the state’s first large-scale model on how to bring live performances back safely after the almost a year-long COVID-related theaters shutdown
  • The news of NY PopsUp comes on the same day that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced the initiative Curtains Up NYC, which aims to help qualified entertainment businesses obtain federal grants

New York stars perform at the Javits Center on Saturday to start almost 200 days of NY PopsUp, an arts festival featuring hundreds of free pop-up performances throughout the state, including New York City — all in an effort to accelerate the return of the arts and culture scene.

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 jump-starting New York’s struggling live entertainment sector,” the state said.

Jazz musician Jon Batiste, choreographer and tap dancer Ayodele Casel and international opera star Anthony Roth Costanzo give performances in a tribute to New York’s health care workers at the Javits Center on Saturday. The inaugural event will be livestreamed here at 12:30 p.m..

A follow-up performance on Sunday will be lead by choreographer Garth Fagan’s company at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s MAGIC Spell Studios.

NY PopsUp launches Feb. 20 and runs through Labor Day. The festival will reach its peak 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 by that point.

The pop-up-centric festival will serve as a pilot program for creating the state’s first large-scale model on how to bring live performances back safely after the almost a year-long COVID-related theaters shutdown.

According to the state, NY PopsUp is being coordinated with public health officials and will strictly adhere to Department of Health COVID-19 protocols.

“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,” Gov. Andrew 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 events produced by NY PopsUp will be staged across the five boroughs of New York City, throughout Long Island and in all regions of the state. Cuomo said more than 300 pop-up performances will take place, with performers including actors Hugh Jackman, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kenan Thompson, opera stars Renée Fleming and J’Nai Bridges, performance artist Taylor Mac and dancer Savion Glover.

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 will become the stages for the hundreds of pop-up performances planned.

“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,” the state said.

As part of the initiative, NYC officials said a new “Open Culture” program would launch in more than 100 locations citywide. Groups can start applying for permits March 1 for one-day performances. They can charge for tickets as long as they don’t block passers-by from seeing what they can.

“If we’re really going to bring back the heart and soul of New York City, we need our arts and culture back,” the mayor said at a news conference enlivened by a performance by members of Elisa Monte Dance, a modern dance company based in Harlem.

However, as COVID restrictions begin to loosen, the NY PopsUp model will pave the way for the reopening of multidisciplinary flexible venues (known as “flex venues”) throughout the state, which will also participate in the festival, making these the very first indoor performances since the pandemic began — eventually marking a milestone in the state’s recovery efforts. These venues are established performance spaces without fixed seating and will be able to be adapted for social distancing. They include: The SHED, The Apollo, Harlem Stage, La MaMa, and The Glimmerglass Festival’s Alice Busch Opera Theater. All indoor events will also strictly follow Department of Health public health and safety guidance.

The pop-up festival is a private/public partnership overseen by producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal, in coordination with the New York State Council on the Arts and Empire State Development.

Cuomo first announced the state’s idea of entertainment pop-ups during his State of the State last month.

“This groundbreaking initiative will help revive the arts while celebrating new York’s resiliency and recovery from the COVID pandemic,” Cuomo said at the time.

The news of NY PopsUp comes on the same day that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio introduced the initiative Curtains Up NYC, which aims to help qualified entertainment businesses obtain federal grants.