The New York art scene is about to reopen yet another milestone: The Shed, a major performing arts venue in Hudson Yards, announced Wednesday that it would be hosting a series of indoor performances for a limited audience over the next month , in which everyone can participate either tested for the coronavirus or vaccinated against it.
The Shed announced that it will present four events next month: concerts by cellist and singer Kelsey Lu, soprano Renée Fleming and a string ensemble from the New York Philharmonic, and a comedy by Michelle Wolf.
Each of the performances is open to up to 150 masked people in a room with 1,280 seats. The Shed said customers would be required to provide confirmation of a recent negative coronavirus test or confirmation of full vaccination. By requiring tests, the shed can accommodate the largest number of viewers permitted under state protocols.
“Capacity is limited in these first few steps, but you have to start somewhere,” said the shed’s artistic director, Alex Poots. “These first steps are really important to us, to our audiences, and to our artists – just the idea that we could get back to something joyful.”
The Shed is the third New York art presenter to announce concrete plans to resume the program this week after Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced last week that arts and entertainment organizations could begin doing indoor work for audiences with limited audiences Presenting capacity. On Tuesday, commercial producer Daryl Roth said she would perform “Blindness,” an audio adaptation of José Saramago’s novel, in front of up to 50 viewers in her Union Square theater, and Park Avenue Armory said she would do a number of Presenting music, dance and movement works, starting with a piece by Bill T. Jones for an audience of 100. The Armory said ticket buyers would need to do a free on-site rapid coronavirus test before entering.
Poots said the shed would begin with music and comedy because “both have universal appeal and also go well with the guidelines that have emerged”.
“It gets a lot more complex when you deal with more complex art forms that require a lot of costume changes or close-ups,” he said. The productions are small but not tiny; Lu will be accompanied by 14 musicians and the Philharmonic Ensemble will have 20 players. None of the performances are interrupted.
The first performer, Lu, plans to present an opera called “This is a Test”.
“I’ve been waiting for this day – it’s been too long,” said Lu. “There is nothing like the audience and the performers. It left a void for me and so many of us. “
The Shed, like many art institutions, canceled programs starting March 12th last year. Since then it has presented a visual art exhibition with works by Howardena Pindell; a filmed rendition of a play “November” by Claudia Rankine; and a digital online series of works. But these April events will be the first live performances with a paying audience. The shed has some significant architectural advantages given the circumstances: it’s a new building with a state-of-the-art HVAC system that can fully refresh the breathable indoor air every 30 minutes, and its 18,000 square meter main performance space opens directly to the outside.
The Shed plans to follow the performances in April by hosting the Frieze New York art fair for the first time in May and Open Call, a program for early career artists, as well as programs in partnership with the Tribeca Film Festival. Poots said he hoped “things will get a lot easier in terms of capacity and regulations” by the fall.