By Natalie Duddridge

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – If you’ve been missing live entertainment, this is your chance to take in a show.

Starting this weekend, outdoor performances are allowed through a new city program.

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As CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge reports, all-female Brazilian drum group Fogo Azul, which means “blue fire,” specializes in playing samba-reggae, and getting their audiences up dancing.

Friday they held one of the troupe’s first performances a year after cultural activities shut down due to the pandemic.

“It has been pretty depressing to be shut down. We bring joy, we bring energy to the city. Lots of different events we do, and to just to be totally cut off from that was pretty draining on us as a band,” said Fogo Azul artistic director Stacy Kovacs.

El Museo Del Barrio, a museum in East Harlem, threw a little party, with dancers and poetry to launch the city’s new “Open Culture” program.

“The Open Culture program gives space to artists, to performers outdoors, on the streets, in the parks, everywhere where we can gather people safely to experience amazing performances and feel the energy coming back to this city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

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It’s similar to the city’s Open Restaurants program that allows for outdoor dining permits. In this case, it allows entertainers to get performance permits for outdoor spaces around the city to help the industry recover.

“The arts community has been really devastated by the pandemic in similar ways to the rest of New York. We’ve actually experienced the steepest decline in unemployment across any New York City sector, according to the state comptroller. We’ve seen almost a two-thirds decline in employment in arts entertainment,” said Ana Chireno of El Museo Del Barrio.

Organizers say normally the arts makes up almost 8% of the state’s GDP, not to mention revenue from hospitality, with tourists coming from all over the world for the city’s entertainment. They hope this launches a new outdoor stage.

The city has already approved 156 Open Culture permits, and there are performances happening across the city this weekend, and coming weeks.

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Natalie Duddridge