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Courtesy Brooklyn Museum/Jonatha

Major NYC cultural institutions are providing safe spaces for protestors

Theaters and museums citywide are opening their doors for New Yorkers.

Collier Sutter
Written by
Collier Sutter

Across the city, cultural institutions are repurposing their spaces to provide a space for those taking part in the Black Lives Matter protests against discrimination and police brutality

As the weather heats up and demonstrators are outside for hours exercising their First Amendment rights, many of New York's most well-known institutions have answered a call placed by Open Your Lobby, an initiative that started on June 3.

The group asked theaters to allow protestors inside their buildings to regroup, use restrooms and charge phones, and for the venues to offer safety supplies such as water, snacks, protective equipment and first aid.

One of the first cultural institutions to open their doors was Off Broadway theater company New York Theater Workshop. Earlier this week at their East Village-based theater, they posted signage out front that bathrooms were now open to protestors and that they would be distributing supplies. They later posted on their Twitter that they would be specifically providing, "water, snacks, PPE, charging stations, and a place to rest your feet."

Since the hashtag #OpenYourLobby began, a number of New York theaters have followed suit, opening their spaces for protestors' safety. 

"NYC, we hear you," read a post on the Public Theater’s social media Wednesday. “If you are heading out to protest today, our restrooms are open from 2pm to 6pm. We will have staff volunteers on hand to help facilitate social distancing.”

public theater
Photograph: Shutterstock

The Atlantic Theater Company, is offering air conditioning, bottled water, restrooms, snacks, first aid, pads and tampons from Thursday June 4 to Sunday June 7. With the current health crisis in mind, only four people are allowed in at a time, with social distancing, and masks required. 

Others in the theater community who are rising to the challenge are Signature Theatre in Manhattan, and Irondale Center and A.R.T. New York's South Oxford Space in Brooklyn, who have each put out statements of their own, with social distancing measures in place.

A few of New York's staple museums have also stepped up, including the Brooklyn Museum, which announced their lobby bathrooms are available from 2 to 6pm, according to a post by Carmen Hermo, an associate curator at the museum.

MoMA PS1 in Long Island City also announced on Twitter they would be distributing water, snacks and providing bathroom access from 5:30-7:30pm on June 5, in conjunction with a planned vigil nearby in Court Square.

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