New York City mayoral candidate favourite Andrew Yang has proposed an ‘arts revival’ plan, which includes large-scale ticket sales to the private sector and vaccine passports.

The former Democrat presidential candidate — who hopes to win November’s election — pitched the idea yesterday (Tuesday) as a means to stimulate the theatre industry in the wake of the COVID-19 shutdown.

He stated that his administration would negotiate the purchasing of “hundreds of thousands of tickets at reduced prices” to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, using both government funds and agreements with private corporations.

The corporations, including the likes of J.P. Morgan, Deloitte, PwC and Ernst & Young, would hold onto some of the tickets for themselves while donating the majority of the other tickets to non-profit organisations around the city, including those that support key workers and first responders.

He said the move would help to “bring people back into theatre seats” and stimulate economic growth.

Yang’s plan suggests a tiered breakdown, from premium seats going to those who spend at least $1,500 at participating businesses to a lottery system for those who spend $100. He also proposed the use of personal seat licenses at Broadway theatres, similar to season tickets to sporting events.

“Doing so would encourage reliable ticket sales and a portion of the proceeds could go toward charity and revitalising NYC,” the proposal states.

In addition, the plan said the administration would “establish a pilot program to support high-quality streaming of theatre productions,” pointing to the economic impact of streaming throughout 2020 and the pandemic.

The proposal also includes promises to launch “the largest marketing campaign in NYC history,” as well as to establish a portable benefits fund for freelancers and independent contractors, among other points.

Yang also touches on using vaccine passports to help the city’s arts scene to reopen. Earlier this month, New York launched the first coronavirus passport app in the country to help fast-track the reopening of entertainment venues. The Excelsior Pass uses secure technology to confirm an individual’s vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test through a confidential data transfer.

Yang said: “In order to reopen our civic and cultural life, our city will need to implement protocols that give individuals — tourists, theatregoers, actors, staff — confidence that they can return to establishments safely.

“To that end, a Yang administration will facilitate the use of ‘vaccine passports,’ which will provide people with ways to prove their vaccination or COVID-19 test results in a privacy-protecting, verifiable, and voluntary manner.”

Tech entrepreneur Yang is the favourite to win November’s election, with the winner to assume office at the start of 2022. Incumbent Bill de Blasio cannot run again after serving two terms.

Image: George Hodan