NEW YORK CITY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that Broadway shows will be allowed to open again in New York City on Sept. 14.
Tickets will go sale Thursday, with theaters being sold at 100% capacity. Theaters can sell every seat, and they will then determine, based on demand, how and when they reopen.
That means shows are likely to reopen on a rolling bases, with most opening in September.
Cuomo said he prefers theaters to require 100% vaccination but that the state cannot mandate the use of vaccinations that are under emergency use authorization.
"September is a long way away," he said. "They will have to make a market decision, because they need a high capacity. So see where we are in September, and they will have a range of options. My option that I like is 100% vaccine."
The governor said the state will continue to work closely with Broadway industry partners to plan for the safe, successful return of this world-class cultural experience.
"Broadway is at the core of our New York identity, and a big part of our economy, which employs countless performers and show creators, and beginning this September, the show will go on," he said. "Visitors from all around the world have come to New York to experience the arts and culture and see iconic performances on Broadway, and, sadly, the pandemic put this unique New York experience on pause. Thankfully, as we continue to monitor the data and reopen our economy, we are now on track to allow full capacity performances on Broadway to resume in September, bringing back this beloved world-famous attraction."
Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, released a statement in support of the decision.
"Today's news means we are one step closer to the safe reopening of not just Broadway, but jobs for thousands of workers in the New York area," Executive Director Mary McColl said.. "We look forward to continuing our conversations with the Broadway League about a safe reopening and know that soon the time will come when members can go back to doing what they do best, creating world-class theatre."
As public health conditions and the state's guidance for performing arts and live entertainment changes, Broadway stakeholders will remain flexible and adapt to applicable health protocols, such as face coverings, health screening, enhanced air filtration and ventilation, and rigorous cleaning and disinfection.
The availability of advance sale tickets and marketing for shows begins the months-long process of reopening to full capacity, building momentum to sustain many long and successful Broadway runs.
"On behalf of the nearly 100,000 people who make their living on Broadway, on stage, backstage, and throughout the city and state, we are immensely gratified by the support of Governor Cuomo today," Broadway League President Charlotte St. Martin said. "Restarting Broadway is a complex endeavor, requiring long lead times for productions the need to reconnect with a sustaining audience from across the country and around the world. Today's green light by the Governor to put our shows on sale now for the fall is vital to our success. Broadway is the beating heart of NYC tourism and we can't wait for the day soon when our hearts will beat before a live joyful audience."
If performances need to be postponed due to the public health conditions, theaters have planned to offer customer-friendly refunds and exchange policies.
To support the performance industry in New York City, the Fiscal Year 2022 enacted budget included $1 billion in Small Business and Arts Relief and Recovery Assistance, which includes the New York City Musical and Theatrical Production Tax Credit Program that provides up to $100 million in tax credits to jumpstart the industry and revitalize tourism in New York City.
Under this program, productions that have their first performance scheduled through December 2022 are eligible for a 25% credit on eligible costs.
Prior to the pandemic, almost 250,000 people were seeing a Broadway show every week. Broadway supports nearly 97,000 local jobs and contributes about $14.7 billion every year to the New York City economy.