But thanks to the the Covid-19 vaccine rollout and warmer weather on the horizon, New Yorkers will be treated to the art they love in 2021.
In fact, we will be immersed in it. Violin popups in the street. Broadway plays on the Upper West Side. Musical performances, a giant outdoor reading room with regular author readings, an outdoor cabaret stage on Hearst Plaza with shows happening day and night.
That’s just part of Lincoln Center’s “Restart Stages,” a program aimed to kickstart the arts and revive New York City. Performances start on World Health Day, April 7, and tickets to events across 10 specially created outdoor venues will be offered to healthcare workers first. Most of the shows will be free, on a first come first serve basis. The project is funded by support of the Lincoln Center Board of Directors and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF).
Henry Timms, President and CEO at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, told CNN that staff quickly discovered various ways to use the 16 acres of space the center has outside, and they worked with different institutions throughout the city to also be of service where they can.
“What we really wanted to do was use the outdoor space. So that was the genesis of the restart stage project. And also Lincoln Center, we’re a very proud New York institution, and we really wanted to play our part in bringing New York back,” Timms said. “There are lots of people who are very down on the future and down on New York.
“We are all feeling very much like we want to do our part in that recovery. So that’s been our general thinking. There’s so much focus on the economic recovery, which, of course, is essential, but tied to that, there has to be this human recovery, which is how do we all as human beings start to come out with this period where we’ve been kept away from each other, we’ve been disconnected.”
Timms said having an arts revival will “help pull people together, connect people to themselves, to each other.”
A few of the groups Lincoln Center has partnered with include the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance (BAAD!), the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Harlem Week and the Harlem Arts Alliance, the Korean Cultural Center New York, and Weeksville Heritage Center.
Beginning next month, there will be film screenings by Film at Lincoln Center, evening concerts with the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, a concert and cabaret Series by Lincoln Center Theater and dance workshops from New York City Ballet. There will also be open rehearsals with artists from many shows.
The shows will run days and evenings, and all occur outdoors with safety protocols in place for artists, audiences and staff.
“There will be lots of things going on at once,” Timms said, adding that “the phone is ringing” and the center is still opening up more shows. They are currently in discussions with Broadway producers to see how they can assist with outdoor space for plays and musicals.
“The phone is ringing now in the sense that people are realizing we’re doing this and realize that we want to partner in some interesting ways,” Timms said. “We are really trying to do this in a very open way.”
New York has also started an “Open Culture” program, which began March 1, and continues until October 31. It allows musicians, comedians and dancers to apply for a permit to perform outdoor performances and “to share their gifts with a city in desperate need of being entertained.”
New York City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer tweeted of the program: “After an unanimous vote in the Council the new Open Culture program will bring song, dance, comedy, & performances to our streets.”
Over the next few weeks, the performance schedule and free ticket distribution details will be available for The Delacorte Theater, which will reopen this summer, a spokesperson for The Public Theater told CNN.
The Shakespeare in the Park stage will feature a free production of “Merry Wives,” which will run for 8-weeks, starting on July 5. Adapted from “The Merry Wives of Windsor” and directed by Saheem Ali, the updated version will be set in Harlem and focus around immigrants from West Africa.
In true New York fashion, there’s also a festival where there’s no tickets required — you just have to be in the right place at the right time.
NY PopsUp features hundreds of pop-up performances, which will intersect with the daily lives of New Yorkers. The series of events aims 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.”
The shows will run through Labor Day and will total more than 1,000 performances. Performances are scheduled to celebrate both the 20th Anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival (June 9 through 20) and the opening of Little Island at Pier 55 in June.