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Two Hell’s Kitchen blocks have become outdoor venues as part of New York City’s “Open Culture” program. The streets were given this special status and will be closed to traffic for performances.

The Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krewe performing on 9th Avenue in October 2020.

Open Culture is a new permit type, available from the Mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office and allowing for ticketed performances. Arts and cultural institutions, as well as entertainment venues, will have the opportunity to secure a permit for socially distanced performances at over 100 street locations throughout all five boroughs. Hell’s Kitchen’s two locations are:

  • W52nd Street between 10th Avenue and 11th Avenue
  • W39th Street between 9th Avenue and 10th Avenue

The W39th Street location was used for many years at weekends for the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. Meanwhile, the bid to use W52nd Street has been lobbied for by a group of local art groups including INTAR, MCC Theater, the Irish Arts Center, Ensemble Studio Theatre and the 52nd Street Project.

“INTAR is grateful to NYC for the Open Culture designation of our block and we hope and plan to take advantage to take it to the street,” said Paul Slee Rodriguez, Executive Director of INTAR.

Locals can look forward to watching live theater, music, dance, comedy and other live performances. While many have welcomed the initiative, the union Equity told their members last week to take advice before getting involved in any “Open Culture” event, saying the program was “disappointing and unfair to arts workers in our city.”

Applications for events on the streets are open now and will run through to October 31, 2021. If you have an idea for a show you can apply here.

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