New York’s pop-up concerts kick off with jazz at a vaccination site.


It seemed at first like a small, no-frills concert in a carefully controlled environment: the jazz musician Jon Batiste sitting at a piano in an auditorium at the Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side, performing for an audience of about 50 health care workers — some wearing scrubs, others Army fatigues.

But about half an hour in, Mr. Batiste and other performers stepped off the stage and exited the room, turning what had begun as a formal concert into a rollicking procession of music and dancing that grooved through the sterile building — the convention center was turned into a field hospital early in the pandemic and is now a vaccination site — where hundreds of hopeful people had come on Saturday afternoon to get their shots.

This concert-turned-roaming-party was the first in a series of “pop-up” shows in New York intended to give the arts a jolt by providing artists with paid work and audiences with opportunities to see live performance after nearly a year of darkened theaters and concert halls.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans for the series, called “NY PopsUp,” last month, declaring that “we must bring arts and culture back to life,” and adding that their revival would be crucial to the economic revival of New York City.

Because the program is wary of drawing crowds, most of the performances will be unannounced, emerging suddenly at parks, museums, parking lots and street corners. The idea is to inject a dose of inspiration into the lives of New Yorkers.

As the musicians moved through the convention center, the audience of health care workers followed them, clapping to the beat and recording the spectacle on their phones.

Shortly before the music ended, some health care workers rushed off to continue their work day (this concert was happening during their break time, after all).


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