Since the start of COVID-19, almost all artists have been out of work since March 2020. Now that cases have begun to drop, mayors and governors have started to help with funding live performance and pop-up installations as well for recovery efforts from the pandemic. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to help with these efforts “in a big and organized way.”
Since February twentieth, there are to be over 300 pop-up performances that will run through the summer. The Governor’s office states that “The idea is to have lots of performances all over the state with small audiences.” Critics of the pop-ups are labeling this as a PR stunt that could harm the already dismantled well-being of music venues, comedy clubs, and theatres by the usage of alternative programming. The move itself is said to act as a prelude though to opening Broadway theatres and other venue sites. Cuomo also said that indoor dining, starting at twenty-five percent capacity, will start on February twenty-fifth, two days ahead of time.
Other states such as California have begun doing similar things, with Governor Gavin Nelson considering spending $15 million dollars for a “California Creative Corps.” The program would expand on the pre-existing “San Francisco Creative Corps”, with the San Francisco Chronicle stating that this is to “fuel positivity, regain public trust and inspire safe and healthy behavior across California’s diverse populations through a media, outreach, and engagement campaign.” There would be a public health element to it with artists acting as “community health ambassadors” since California has been one of the states with the highest percentages of COVID outbreaks. Julie Baker, executive director of Californians for the Arts, states that even though the industry is in current devastation, “We’re not here asking for handouts; we are here saying, ‘Use us in service.’”.
“This may be the time for artists to come back into the heart of American cities,” writes Jeremy Zuker of WhereIPark for SmartCitiesWorld. “With so much empty commercial and rental space, property owners need to find ways to fill their units, even if it’s not at the rate that they are accustomed to.”