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New York is popping with announcements from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio about a raft of new initiatives to bring life back to the city.

First off, Governor Cuomo gave the city’s restaurants a boost by bringing forward the opening of indoor dining at 25% to this Friday — it had originally been planned for Sunday, Valentine’s Day.

“They’ve made the point that they’d like to open a couple of days earlier so that they can get ready for Valentine’s Day, get staff oriented, get supplies into the restaurants and that’s a reasonable request,” Cuomo said. “Valentine’s Day should be a big restaurant day.”

He added to that news by pulling the curtain back on plans for “NY PopsUp”. Cuomo called it a “a nation-leading initiative to accelerate the revival of the arts.” Introducing the line-up of performers, including Hugh Jackman, Chris Rock, Sarah Jessica Parker and Billy Porter, he said: “The arts industry is the creative soul of New York, but artists and arts workers have been among the most devastated by the pandemic.”

NY PopsUp begins February 20 at the Javits Center, with a special tribute to health care workers. It will continue with over 300 pop-up art events planned across New York State.

Cuomo enthused that this plan could lead to a limited reopening of Broadway theaters, which have been closed for almost a year. “That is where we are headed,” the Governor said. “The overall effort is headed towards reopening with testing. We’re going to be smart, but also aggressive about it.”

Meanwhile, the Mayor has his own plan to help the city’s arts. There will be free permits for outdoor street performances, thanks to a new scheme called “Open Culture” which will start on March 1. Cultural institutions will qualify to host 50-person events.

Ninth Avenue came alive with street performances last summer, thanks to the Hell’s Kitchen Happiness Krewe.

“We need a recovery that brings back the heart and soul of this city. We need to bring back our arts and culture,” De Blasio said. “Our Open Culture program will do just that, by bringing performance art to the greatest stage in the world — the streets of New York City.”

The plan is modeled on the city’s Open Restaurants initiative, which has let eateries use streets while indoor dining has been limited or banned.

“Ten thousand restaurants took advantage and took street space and sidewalk space. This is going to be the cultural equivalent, bring culture out into the streets of the city for all to enjoy for free,” said de Blasio.

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