De Blasio's 'Open Culture' program blasted by performers for low pay, lackluster safety standards

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A prominent actors’ union is torching Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “Open Culture” program, citing lackluster safety standards and low pay concerns.

The initiative permits outdoor cultural performances on designated New York City streets. 

Mary McColl, executive director of the Actors’ Equity Association, warned members to “contact your business representative immediately before accepting” a part in projects affiliated with the new program.

The message was sent to members Thursday in an email blast obtained by Fox News.

“The current structure of the program does not meet Equity’s minimum standards for wages or COVID-19 safety,” McColl wrote.


She pointed to several issues with the program, such as the lack of requirements “that producers pay a living wage” or for producers to “provide proof of workers’ compensation insurance.”

The email also warned members of the union that de Blasio’s program “does not require that workers be tested for COVID-19” amid the global pandemic and has no requirement for social distancing among performers.

Additionally, the union warned that the Open Culture program has no “formal requirement” for a “COVID-19 safety officer” and that there are not “appropriate safeguards” to keep space between performers and audiences.

McColl did not mince words as she demolished de Blasio’s program even more, taking aim at the “unfair” program that “does not ensure a safe workplace for workers.”

“In fact, the city permit process does not require proof that producers pay any wage at all — while explicitly permitting ticket sales and collecting donations,” McColl wrote. “This is disappointing and unfair to the arts workers in our city. It is especially concerning that the city has put forward a plan that does not ensure a safe workplace for workers.”

The Actors’ Equity Association is a trade union founded in 1913 supporting actors and stage managers across the United States, its website states.

According to the New York City website, de Blasio’s Open Culture program provides permits “allowing for ticketed performances” on a “first come, first serve basis.”

“Arts and cultural institutions, as well as entertainment venues, will have the opportunity to secure a permit for socially distanced performances at over 100 street locations throughout all five boroughs,” the website reads.

De Blasio’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.


De Blasio recently weighed in on embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal, saying the governor “cannot govern” if the allegations are true.

The feud between the two prominent Empire State politicians intensified on Wednesday, with Cuomo blasting the Big Apple as “teetering” with homelessness and crime, which has seen a ton of people jetting off for greener pastures.

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