New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced NY PopsUp, an unprecedented statewide festival event featuring hundreds of pop-up performances that will intersect with the everyday lives of New Yorkers. All performances are open to the public and many of them will be free of charge.

The expansive event program, which will run from Saturday, Feb. 20 through Labor Day, is intended to boost the spirit and morale of New Yorkers while jumpstarting the state’s struggling live entertainment industry. The 20th Tribeca Film Festival and the festival at Little Island at Pier 55 will bring the total number of pop-up performances to over a thousand, and serve as the climatic height of NY PopsUp. The events produced by NY PopsUp will take place in all types of neighborhoods and districts across each of New York City’s five boroughs, as well as throughout upstate and into Western New York. 

“Cities have taken a real blow during COVID, and the economy will not come back fast enough on its own – we must bring it back,” said Governor Cuomo in a press release. “Creative synergies are vital for cities to survive, and our arts and cultural industries have been shut down all across the country, taking a terrible toll on workers and the economy. We want to be aggressive with reopening the State and getting our economy back on track, and NY PopsUp will be an important bridge to the broader reopening of our world-class performance venues and institutions. New York has been a leader throughout this entire pandemic, and we will lead once again with bringing back the arts.”

The pop-up performances will meet New Yorkers from all areas of the state where they are, so as to immerse the joyous spectacle of live performances into citizen’s everyday lives. People can expect to run into these pop-ups in transit stations, parks, subway platforms, museums, skate parks, upstate venues, storefronts, and many other places. One might even expect to catch a performance on somebody’s fire escape.  

NY PopsUp is intended to serve as a template for how to safely bring back live performances after the prolonged COVID-19 shutdown. The event is being closely coordinated with state public health officials, and will strictly adhere to COVID-19 protocols as designated by the Department of Health. It aims to pave the way for the reopening of multidisciplinary flexible venues (“flex” venues) to take part in the festival; the very first indoor performances in New York since the beginning of the pandemic will take place in these participating venues. It will serve as a key step in getting arts professionals back to work. Though the pandemic has rendered large destination-style gatherings impossible, these flex venues can be adapted for social distancing, as they consist of performance spaces without fixed seating. Examples of these venues include The SHED, The Apollo, Harlem Stage, and more. 

The festival will be curated by acclaimed interdisciplinary artist Zack Winokur in collaboration with a hand-selected council of artistic advisors who represent the diversity of artistic communities and performing arts scenes in the state of New York. This council is composed of premier New York artists who hail from differing artistic disciplines; all are considered to be leaders in their respective artistic fields. The council includes acclaimed choreographer Kyle Abraham, thrice-Grammy nominated jazz musician Jon Batiste, Hoofer-award winning tap dancer Ayodele Casel, actor and international opera star Anthony Roth Costanzo, and several others. 

NY PopsUp will encapsulate all areas of art and performance, including theater, dance, comedy, poetry, music, and much more. Currently confirmed artists include Hugh Jackman, Amy Schumer, Renée Fleming, Alec Baldwin, Chris Rock, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, and a plethora of others.