Plays, concerts and other performances may resume in New York from next month – but with greatly reduced capacity limits – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said on Wednesday.
Mr Cuomo, speaking at a press conference in Albany, said arts, entertainment and events venues can reopen April 2 at 33% capacity, with a limit of 100 people indoors or 200 people outdoors, and a requirement that all participants wear. masks and being socially distanced. Those limits would be increased – to 150 people indoors or 500 people outdoors – if the sites are able to test all participants.
A handful of sites immediately said they would start hosting shows, which, with few exceptions, haven’t taken place in New York City since Broadway closed on March 12.
Producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal said they expected some of the first performances to take place with pop-up programs in Broadway theaters, as well as programs in nonprofit theaters featuring flexible spaces, including the Apollo Theater, Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Hangar, Harlem Stage, The MaMa, and the National Black Theater.
“This communion of audience and performer, which we have dreamed of for a year, we can finally achieve,” said Alex Poots, artistic director and general manager of Shed, who, he said, plans to start indoor performances for a limited time. public capacity from the beginning of April.
The new rules will not affect commercial productions of Broadway plays and musicals, which are even more likely to open after Labor Day, according to Charlotte St. Martin, president of the Broadway League.
“For a traditional Broadway show, the financial model just doesn’t work,” she said. “How do we know that? Because the shows that bring that kind of attendance.
Two prestigious New York nonprofits – the Lincoln Center and the Glimmerglass Festival – have already said they hope to program outdoors this year, and the new rules will allow them to do so in front of a substantial audience.
“We welcome the new guidelines and want to serve as many people on our campus as possible,” said Isabel Sinistore, spokesperson for Lincoln Center, which plans to open 10 outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces on April 7. .
For many New York concert halls, operating at 33% capacity may not yet be enough to make reopening economically feasible, given the costs of running venues and paying performers. Several developers and site operators have said they are keen to reopen at 100% capacity, which many are hoping can happen this summer.
Michael Swier, owner of the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge, two of New York’s best-known rock clubs, said the state’s order that places require social distancing and the wearing of masks means that the actual capacity in many spaces may be much lower.
“Since social distancing is still a part of the metric, that brings us back to around 20% capacity, which is untenable,” Mr. Swier said.
“Even 50% would be difficult for us,” he added.
Ben Sisario and Matt Stevens contributed reporting.