New York Will Take Steps to Revive Arts and Culture Before the Summer, Cuomo Says

The Apollo Theater in Harlem on August 25, 2020 in New York City. Noam Galai/Getty Images

For anyone paying close attention, it’s been clear that the state of New York’s coronavirus vaccination rollout has not been functioning as efficiently as it could be. After medical providers were recently forced to throw out doses they weren’t authorized to administer, governor Andrew Cuomo has loosened restrictions around which citizens are eligible to be vaccinated, and new vaccination sites have sprung up at the Javits Center in Manhattan and the state fairgrounds in Syracuse. Even with these developments, it’s evident that it will be a long time before a majority of the state is vaccinated, which casts Cuomo’s Tuesday announcement that the state will soon begin offering pop-up concerts in a decidedly unflattering light.

According to the New York Times, Cuomo stated that New York will soon launch a partnership that will produce pop-up concerts within several different genres, as well as look into how socially distant performances could safely take place in certain venues. “Cities are, by definition, centers of energy, entertainment, theater and cuisine,” Cuomo reportedly said, while also adding at one point that the state could not wait until summer to bring back performances. “Without that activity and attraction, cities lose much of their appeal. What is a city without social, cultural and creative synergies? New York City is not New York without Broadway.”

No one is arguing that New York City is ideal in its present state, but to rush forward with live performances before most people are immunized against a deadly, unpredictable virus seems deeply misguided at best. Striking a positive note, Cuomo also announced that the state will work in partnership with the Mellon Foundation to distribute grants to artists and community arts groups, an act that should begin to fill the void of federal assistance that so many artists have decried.

Additionally, this week, the New York Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment announced the launch of a six-month edition of annual New York Music Month programming. All of the events will be virtual and free. Virtual events are one thing, but Cuomo’s newly-announced New York Arts Revival, which will include live events at sites like the soon-to-be-opened Little Island, seems all but guaranteed to be imperfectly executed and therefore potentially dangerous.