New York to Allow Limited Live Performances to Resume in April


Plays, concerts and other performances can resume from next month in New York – albeit with greatly reduced capacity limits – said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on Wednesday.

Mr Cuomo said at a news conference in Albany that arts, entertainment and event venues can reopen April 2 with a capacity of 33 percent, with a limit of up to 100 people indoors or 200 people outdoors and a requirement to all participants must wear masks and be socially distant. These limits would increase – to 150 people indoors or 500 people outdoors – if venues could test all attendees.

A handful of venues immediately announced they would be putting on live performances that, with few exceptions, have not taken place in New York since Broadway closed on March 12th.

Producers Scott Rudin and Jane Rosenthal said they expected some of the earliest performances to take place with pop-up programs in Broadway theaters, as well as with programs in non-profit venues with flexible spaces, including the Apollo Theater, Park Avenue Armory, St. Ann’s Warehouse, the Shed, Harlem Stage, La MaMa and the National Black Theater.

“We can finally realize this community of audiences and performers we’ve been craving for a year,” said Alex Poots, the Shed’s artistic director and general manager, who plans to begin indoor performances for a limited time to Capacity Audiences from early April .

Broadway League president Charlotte St. Martin said the new rules will have no impact on commercial productions of Broadway plays and musicals that are expected to open after Labor Day.

“The financial model just doesn’t work for a traditional Broadway show,” she said. “How do we know? Because shows that bring that kind of presence close. “

Two prestigious New York nonprofits – Lincoln Center and Glimmerglass Festival – have already announced that they want to program outdoors this year, and the new rules will allow them to do so in front of a large audience.

“We welcome the new guidelines and want to serve as many people as possible on our campus,” said Isabel Sinistore, a Lincoln Center spokeswoman who plans to open 10 outdoor performance and rehearsal rooms on April 7th.

For many New York music venues, 33 percent capacity may still not be enough to economically reopen, cover the costs of running the venues and paying the performers. Several promoters and promoters said they are aiming to reopen with 100 percent capacity, which many hope can happen this summer.

Michael Swier, the owner of the Bowery Ballroom and Mercury Lounge, two of New York’s most iconic rock clubs, said the state’s ruling that venues require social distancing and the wearing of masks may result in actual capacity in many Clearing is much less.

“Given that social distancing is still part of the metric, we’re going back to about 20 percent capacity, which is unsustainable,” Swier said.

“Even 50 percent would be tough for us,” he added.

Ben Sisario and Matt Stevens contributed to the coverage.



Robert Dunfee