Aug. 21, 2020

Dear Local 802 members,

We’d like to give you an update on the re-opening of New York City, including some new guidelines that we feel adversely affect professional musicians.

New York City is currently in a modified version of “Phase 4,” the final stage of re-opening in New York State. Outdoor dining and outdoor music are mostly permitted, as is media production, all with prescribed limits and safety measures. But in New York City, indoor dining is still prohibited, as is indoor music at venues such as Broadway, Lincoln Center and indoor bars and restaurants.

On Wednesday (Aug. 19), the New York State Liquor Authority (which governs restaurants and venues that serve alcohol) announced new guidelines that say: “Only incidental music is permissible at this time. This means that advertised and/or ticketed shows are not permissible. Music should be incidental to the dining experience and not the draw itself.”

It’s clear that the Liquor Authority is attempting to control crowds and limit numbers. We appreciate that concern, but we feel that the new guidelines are overly stringent, misguided, and actually counter-productive.

By preventing venues from selling tickets in advance, a venue is unable to know how many audience members to expect. On the other hand, if venues were allowed to sell tickets, it could set up its crowd control measures in advance and manage the audience more effectively.

These guidelines currently only apply to outdoor music at outdoor restaurants in New York City. But we can’t let these guidelines stand. Once indoor dining is allowed in New York City, it will signify the next wave of re-opening and will create more work opportunities for our members. By not allowing advertised or ticketed shows, our members’ return to a normal work life is threatened.

We are currently meeting with state and local officials to make our position known: as New York City continues to re-open, there should be no restrictions on ticketed or advertised shows. We can create safe workplaces for our musicians without threatening their work.

Finally, if you are hired for any kind of music work right now, please remember two things.

The first is that your employer is responsible for your safety. If you feel you are asked to perform in an unsafe condition, contact Local 802 immediately. (The best way to reach us right now is via e-mail, at Membership@Local802afm.org.)

The second thing to remember is that we strongly encourage every musician to file a Local 802 union contract for every gig you do. This matters now more than ever. Local 802 can help protect your wages, benefits, and — most of all — your safety. Again, e-mail us at Membership@Local802afm.org if you get called to play a job and want to file it as a union contract.

Our goal is to get our members back to work as quickly and as safely as possible. Entertainment and culture are the engines that makes New York City work. We need to get those engines up and running without any false starts, delays or breakdowns.

In solidarity,

Local 802 Executive Board