NY PopsUp aims to help struggling live entertainment community amid COVID pandemic

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed an ambitious plan in January to resume public performances in the state, with the goal of reviving a vital industry that has been decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

His program is called NY PopsUp, a months-long series featuring 100 artists that begins on Saturday, February 20, with a performance for health care workers who are administering COVID-19 vaccinations at the Javits Center in Manhattan.

There will be echoes of another challenging time, as show business folk again rally to help a city in need, just as Robert De Niro did after 9/11 with the first Tribeca Film Festival.

"What Tribeca did so well 20 years ago, we now need on a massive scale statewide," Cuomo said.

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Officials say the sites are expected to vaccinate over 25,000 people throughout the week, with more sites coming online every week.

On Broadway, the tethers are empty and the silence is deafening, and so many are out of work.

"What needs to happen right now is New Yorkers and New York artists doing what they did in front of audiences again and being paid for it," director Zack Winokur said.

His 2019 musical tribute to poet Langston Hughes caught the eye of producer Scott Rudin, who is teaming up with De Niro's business partner, Jane Rosenthal, for this effort.

True to its name, NY PopsUp events will take place with no advance warning to avoid congestion.

"We want to be in regular New Yorkers' lives," Winokur said. "We want to infiltrate their daily lives, in their commutes, at the footsteps of they workplaces, as they're walking through parks. It should be something that you just encounter."

The hope is that NY PopsUp can serve as a bridge to the safe return of live performances in New York.

"What we're trying to do is be the spark towards a fuller economic recovery later," Winokur said.

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Carnegie Hall hopes to resume shows in October.

There will be events to honor the 20th anniversary of the Tribeca Film Festival in June, and the opening of City Island at Pier 55 on the Hudson River.

There are more than 300 performances planned across all five boroughs starting this weekend and continuing through the summer.

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