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JOE BONAMASSA blasts New York City's 'insulting' 'open culture' program


Joe Bonamassa has blasted New York City’s “Open Culture” program as “insulting” to “the hundreds of thousands of dedicated performers and professionals put out of work due to this pandemic.”

Last week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Cultural Affairs Commissioner Gonzalo Casals officially introduced “Open Culture”, which will open up to 115 designated streets in all five NYC boroughs to be used for promoted performing arts events.

Over the weekend, de Blasio tweeted out a short video of his chilly February 8 outdoor press conference, which was followed by a brief dance performance hosted by a local organization. Bonamassa shared the clip earlier today (Tuesday, February 16) and included the following message: “The fact that these folks don’t realize how insulting this is to the hundreds of thousands of dedicated performers and professionals put out of work due to this pandemic is a real glimpse into how they do not value the arts and view it as some sort of ‘hobby’.”

Modeled on New York City’s successful and nation-leading Open Streets program, Open Culture is a new permit type available from the Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) allowing for ticketed performances, rehearsals, classes, and workshops. Arts and cultural institutions, as well as entertainment venues, can secure a permit for single day, socially distanced performances at over 100 street locations throughout all five boroughs. Following the release of these draft guidelines, applications will open to eligible organizations March 1, 2021 and will extend through October 31, 2021. Eligible organizations include:

* Arts and Culture Institutions: Members of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG); recipients of Cultural Development Fund (CDF) support; recipients of borough arts council funding in 2019 or 2020; or other groups are eligible for CDF grant funding but haven’t received before.

* Cultural Venues (Performance Venues): Entertainment facilities designed to be used for a performance in front of a live audience; this could include concert venues, theaters, and other establishments.

SAPO will accept applications on a rolling basis starting March 1, 2021. For complete guidelines, visit SAPO’s web site.

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