It began with outdoor dining, the popular program which allows restaurants to easily set up tables curbside as indoor dining was either closed or severely limited. Next came the less popular open storefronts program which allows eligible businesses to conduct activity on sidewalks, on roadways in the open streets program. Come springtime, New York City will launch the open storefronts program, a quick permitting process to allow concerts, shows, standup comedy and other events to perform outdoors.
This bill would require the City to create an “Open Culture” program that would allow eligible art and cultural institutions or cultural venues to use approved open space for artistic or cultural events. The Mayor’s Office of Citywide Event Coordination and Management (CECM), in consultation with the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Buildings (DOB), the Police Department (NYPD), the Fire Department (NYFD), and any other agency designated by the Mayor, would establish the program by March 1, 2021. There would be an application fee of $20 for participation in the program and the DOT would be required to share a list of eligible open spaces by February 1, 2021. The program would remain in effect until October 31, 2021, with the possibility of extension, but it would expire by March 31, 2022.
Hopefully, an extension will not be necessary as Covid-19 vaccination begins the sooner live venues are able to reopen the better. Especially, as New York City tourism has dried up and faces a long road back, the return of indoor live entertainment will be a much needed boost for this city.
The council passed also passed a separate bill that requires the city to launch a website displaying open spaces available for performances. Many of the same pre Covid-19 restrictions for performances will still apply, such as where sound can be amplified and at what times.