Broadway isn’t coming back just yet, but New York is taking steps to revive live theater with a new initiative called NYPopsUp. In a Monday press conference, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to kickstart theater for the first time since March 2020, with pop-up events featuring surprise live shows with stars like Hugh Jackman, Renee Fleming, Sarah Jessica Parker, Patti Smith, and Kenan Thompson.
At the news conference Cuomo said, “When you shut down Broadway, when you shut down movie theaters, you stop an entire industry. Everybody understands why, but we have to now nurture that industry to bring it back. It is vital for our cities to survive. The arts industry workers — many of them have been out of work since March. So, we’re going to accelerate that reopening with 300-plus pop-up art events all across the state — 300 events in 100 days of pop-up performances.”
NYPopsUp is designed to boost the city’s morale through live performances. Because massive crowds still aren’t permitted, the shows will not be pre-scheduled or announced. You’ll just have to get lucky and show up in the right place at the right time.
“We’re trying to thread the needle,” said Cuomo. “We want the performances, we don’t want mass gatherings, we don’t want large crowds, so pop-up performances that will surprise people and bring the arts back.”
The pop-ups will occur not just in New York City but across the entire state. The first performance is the only one that’s actually scheduled and will take place on February 20 at the Javits Center as a tribute to healthcare workers. The lineup for opening weekend will feature Jon Batiste, Ayodele Casel, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Cecile McLorin Salvant, and others, as well as a procession from Walt Whitman Park to Golconda Skate Park.
The pop-ups are expected to run through Labor Day.