Broadway is planning to start performances of at least three dozen shows before the end of the year, but producers do not know if there will be enough tourists — who typically make up two-thirds of the audience — to support all of them.
The Metropolitan Opera is planning a September return, but only if its musicians agree to pay cuts.
And New York’s vaunted nightlife scene — the dance clubs and live venues that give the city its reputation for never sleeping — has been stymied by the slow, glitchy rollout of a federal aid program that mistakenly declared some of the city’s best-known nightclub impresarios to be dead.
The return of arts and entertainment is crucial to New York’s economy, and not just because it is a major industry that employed some 93,500 people before the pandemic and paid them $7.4 billion in wages, according to the state comptroller’s office. Culture is also part of the lifeblood of New York — a magnet for visitors and residents alike that will play a key role if the city is to remain vital in an era when shops are battling e-commerce, the ease of remote work has businesses rethinking the need to stay in central business districts and the exurbs are booming.
“What is a city without social, cultural and creative synergies?” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo asked earlier this year in an address on the importance of the arts to the city’s recovery. “New York City is not New York without Broadway. And with Zoom, many people have learned they can do business from anywhere. Compound this situation with growing crime and homelessness and we have a national urban crisis.”