Et Tu, Andrew?

Cuomo omits the arts from New York State's recovery plan

| 01 May 2020 | 01:45

Google “Cuomo plan to re-open NYS” and you will find a well ordered design about phases of priority: Each region has to meet stated requirements. There is everything from hardening the healthcare system to developing testing and contact tracing protocol.

Firms will be considered more or less essential, their risk of infection spread taken into account. There will be regional coordination, and the re-imagining of telemedicine and tele-education.

But help! Governor Andrew Cuomo seems to have left arts and culture out of his Phased Plan to Re-Open the state.

Key to Cuomo’s plan is his NY Forward Advisory Board, 116 members when I counted. There are some apparent political appointments, many academics, foundation presidents, and heads of business, hospitality and tourism associations. Banks and unions are represented, as is Verizon, Pfizer, and the New York Stock Exchange. And the NY Islanders, the NY Yankees, the NY Mets, and the NBA.

There is little tech representation, even though Google, for example, has a major footprint in the city. There are real estate people on the list, but no Broadway theater owners.

There is one name associated with film and television production, but I looked in vain for representation of the world-class cultural institutions that are among the economic engines of the city and state. No museums, no dance, music or performing arts organizations. No theater companies or producers, and no Broadway. It’s unconscionable that the governor doesn’t seem to understand their importance.

I can understand Cuomo’s hesitancy about opening up museums, concert halls and theaters until we know people can be safe. But that doesn’t explain why none of these will have a seat at the table as the state’s recovery is being mapped.

I’m among those grateful for the governor’s daily Coronavirus briefings — a welcome voice of information and competence. At those sessions, Cuomo reminds us that we New Yorkers are tough.

But it seems our governor doesn’t fully understand the state he governs. The Empire State is more than businesses with inherent low or higher risks of infection. Every region has its unique cultural centers and, at the core, is the Big Apple, filled with large and small arts organizations.

Reports are that locked-down folks are searching for live events online. Personally, I grieve for the loss of live performances and in-person experiences. For an advisory board that will plan our recovery, should you leave out the city’s performing arts? Its orchestras and museums? The creative artists and the world-class cultural life?

Should you omit Broadway? If you do, you no longer have the gem that is New York City. What you’ve got is just another town.

Leida Snow is a journalist and critic.