Rochester arts community on Cuomo's revival plan

Emily Putnam
Updated: January 13, 2021 05:53 PM
Created: January 13, 2021 05:26 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — In his State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to bring back the arts in New York State.

The plan involves a series of outdoor pop-up events across the state featuring artists like Amy Schumer, Hugh Jackman and Renee Fleming. The first pop-up performance is set to take place on Feb. 4. The locations and further details have not yet been announced. 

Whenever supporting the arts is part of a public conversation it's a win for artists, but local theater operators have mixed feelings on Gov. Cuomo's new plan. 

"I believe we all feel very encouraged by the recognition that it is a priority," said Linda Glosser, Executive Vice President with the Rochester Broadway Theatre League. 

"The content of what he spoke about ... is a beginning, and is New York City-centric," said Geva Theatre Center Artistic Director Mark Cuddy.

He was surprised to hear the Governor include the arts in his address Monday. 

Theater companies and live performance venues have not been able to host live events in ten months. Gov. Cuomo estimates that the arts bring in $120 billion for local economies and create over half a million jobs.

While local arts leaders say his plan is a step in the right direction, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. For starters, the plan seems to focus heavily on New York City and less on Upstate New York. 

"We'll be interested to see how this commitment to bringing it back will funnel into communities, smaller communities like ours in Rochester and our partners in Buffalo, in Binghamton and Syracuse and everywhere else that has been affected as well," Glosser said.

Another big question about Cuomo's plan is how do independent artists and smaller organizations fit into the equation? 

"Independent artists, small organizations, mid-sized organizations, large organizations, cross-pollination," Cuddy said, "it's the ecology that makes it work, not just some big events."

Overall, local arts leaders seem to think that this initiative is meant more for rebuilding public trust that the arts can resume safely and getting people excited about live performances again than it is about supporting individual organizations. 

Over the weekend Dr. Anothony Fauci estimated that we could see indoor performances resume by fall 2021 (likely with masks). 

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