Together with our NYC Dance in Sacred Places Advisory Committee, we have learned about three New York City initiatives to facilitate small outdoor gatherings for worship and the arts: Open Culture, Green Spaces, and Lobby Extensions.  It is a lot to shift through so we hope that this blog-post synthesizes the information in a way that makes it easy to understand what opportunities are available. 

In light of COVID-19, the safest way to be together is in smaller sized groups, outdoors, and still socially distanced. With that in mind, here is a brief summary of the three new initiatives. You can find more details about each program below. 

  • The Open Culture program is modeled off of the Open Streets initiative from the Street Activity Permit Office that was piloted last summer. 
  • The Green Spaces program from the Department of Parks & Recreation would allow organizations to spill out onto any nearby green spaces or triangles that are linked to their property. 
  • The Lobby Extension for congregations would allow for weekly or regular religious or non-religious events to occur in front of your facility and in the parking spots out front. 

We feel that all of these resources would be essential for folks to re-connect and re-engage as the weather starts to warm up. We encourage folks to think about a minimum 6-8 week lead time on any and all events and permitting. So, a May or June event would need a permit application by late March or April. 

We look forward to continuing our work partnering arts and faith based organizations in the NYC Dance in Sacred Places project with our program partners, Goldstein Hall PLLC, New York Landmarks Conservancy, and Dance/NYC. Visit the NYC Dance in Sacred Places webpage to learn more about the project. 

Overview of the  Open Culture Program:

  • Events must occur on one of the streets designated by the Street Activity Permit Office. Click here to see if your street has been designated. New streets may be considered by DOT in late March/early April.
  • If your building is located on one of the designated streets, the Street Activity Permits will allow for up to four performances or events per month on any one street. 
    • The four events may or may not be concurrent. 
  • The permit will allow for the entire street to be blocked off from traffic for your event. 
  • Crowd limit is currently 50 — this includes any performers, event staff, and your audience. 
  • No amplified music will be allowed unless you apply for a separate permit via your local NYPD precinct.
  • No “stage” or “elevated playing area” will be allowed with this permit. 
  • Filming will be allowed without a separate permit 

Overview of the Green Spaces Program: If a sacred place is near a green street or triangle they can apply for a permit for gatherings via the Parks and Recreation Department

  • Permits for small events cost $25, larger events can cost more
  • Crowd limit is currently 50 — this includes any performers, event staff, and your audience. 
  • The event you are seeking a permit for must not prevent members of the public from reasonably using the space at the same time. 
  • You cannot drive vehicles into the park you are intending to host the event in.
  • You cannot get a sound device permit if the event includes a stage or video screen.

Overview of the Lobby Extensions Program: Much like the restaurant industry expanding into sidewalks and parking spaces, Sacred Places may also apply for the same benefits for their religious or other events. We strongly recommend that Sacred Places reach out to their local council person to advocate for a lobby extension. Need help finding your Council Person? Type your address into this link for assistance and contact information for all your representatives in local, state, and federal government. 

Keeping Dancemakers Safe and Ready to Re-Open: Dancemakers, Dance/NYC has developed an entire toolkit for when you are ready to produce and perform in public. Their thorough list is the best possible resource for all of our dancemakers participants: