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New York City Council Considers Legislation Expanding Outdoor Performances

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One of the proposals, Local Law 2068, aims to adapt the city's outdoor dining measures to cultural affairs.

New York City Council Considers Legislation Expanding Outdoor Performances

The New York City Council held an online hearing this week concerning proposed legislation aiming to create further opportunities for performances and similar cultural events in open spaces.

One of the proposals, Local Law 2068, aims to adapt the city's outdoor dining measures to cultural affairs, granting non-profit organizations permits to utilize outdoor public spaces to stage performances and rehearsals. Council members also recommend amendments to the bill, including an extended application deadline and paid performances.

Another proposal, Local Law 2034, calls for the development of a digital hub through the Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications and the Departments of Cultural Affairs and Parks and Recreation. The space would streamline the application process for permits and enable arts institutions to coordinate scheduling for use of shared spaces.

The plan was contested by Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals, noting that each individual performance would need to be assessed on a case by case basis, due to varying needs of different kinds of events.

Representatives from Times Square Alliance, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts' The Broadway League, League of Independent Theater, and Dance/NYC were also on hand to offer testimony on the state of the arts.

Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer, one of the leaders of the hearing, said of the proposals, "The city isn't doing enough to save our cultural organizations and institution-particularly small ones...when they are literally at the brink of dying as an organization....While I understand the logistics are somewhat different [than open dining plans for restaurants], particularly as many of our smaller cultural organizations don't have brick-and-mortar space, that's not a reason not to do open culture. That's a reason to do open culture because they don't have a venue and they need space to perform, to rehearse, and to charge for performances so they can pay artists. So we can get some of that 70 percent of performing artists who are out of work back."

Meanwhile, as BroadwayWorld reported in June, Broadway performances will remain suspended through at least January 3, 2021.

Just last week, Senator Chuck Schumer; Thomas Schumacher, Chairman of the Broadway League; Charlotte St. Martin, President of the Broadway League; and Broadway stars including Laura Benanti and more gathered today in Duffy Square in support of the proposed Save Our Stages Act. The Save Our Stages Act is a bill which would provide much-needed financial support for theatrical productions and many others nationwide.


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