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2019 MTV Video Music Awards - Fixed Show
Photograph: Courtesy MTV/Mike Co

The VMAs are happening at outdoor pop-up locations around NYC this year

One stage was built up this week on the waterfront in Greenpoint.
Written by
Collier Sutter

UPDATE: The biggest night in video music is back, but—like most everything else—it's undergone a major transformation to accommodate our new age of social distancing.

The VMAs will no longer be taking place at Barclays this year. Instead, the VMAs will be held at various outdoor locations across New York City. One of those locations is on the waterfront in Greenpoint. The not so secret VMA stage was built up overnight this week, just off West Street in Greenpoint.

It's unclear which acts took the stage this week in Greenpoint, but some of the award shows’ acts were present, either pre-recording segments or sound-checking on Wednesday night. Given the magnitude of the stage, nearby Brooklynites were tuned in.

One Greenpoint resident, Brittany Degirolamo, says she heard the nearby commotion, from her apartment. "I heard the helicopters flying super low over my building so went to the roof to check it out and walked up mid-performance, I think it was Keke Palmer!" Degirolamo says. " It looked like everyone on the ground was social distancing from what I could see, and it looked like mostly staff."

Keke Palmer is the host of the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards.

Photograph: @brita_ny

This year’s lineup is stacked, with Ariana Grande, the Black Eyed Peas, BTS, J Blavin, Doja Cat, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus and The Weeknd on the bill.

The event will air on MTV’s website on Sunday August 30, starting at 8pm.

This article has been updated from its original with new information.

During the first week of August, organizers of the VMA's decided against holding an indoors event at Barclays Center, after health warnings that outdoor performances (with little to no audience) would be more doable and safer than an indoor blowout. 

In a statement to Time Out New York, spokespeople for MTV and the Barclays Center wrote the following:

"The 2020 VMAs will be held on Sunday, August 30th and pay homage to the incredible resiliency of New York with several outdoor performances around the City with limited or no audience, adhering to all state and city guidelines. In close consultation with state and local health officials‎, it became clear at this time that outdoor performances with limited or no audience would be more feasible and safer than an indoor event. The VMAs will highlight the boroughs in an exciting show and return to Barclays Center in 2021. MTV will continue to work closely with the Department of Health, state and local officials, the medical community, and key stakeholders to ensure the safety of all involved."

Page Six reported that some of the VMAs staff spoke out that they also did not feel safe with carrying out an indoors event.

This article has been updated from its original with new information.

In a press conference on Monday, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave the the go-ahead for the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards to take place in Brooklyn on Sunday, August 30.

Rolling out the red carpet for the annual music-awards blowout will surely look different. The governor stated that the event would be held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center area with “limited or no audience.”

MTV confirmed in a press release, in co-operation with Barclays, that they "have been working closely with state and local officials to implement best practices for everyone involved.” Social distancing precautions and capacity limits will be in effect, and throughout the show, there will be “virtualization of components” where possible.

The 36-year-old awards show last took place in Brooklyn in 2013.

At last year’s VMAs, Missy Elliott stole the show as the Video Vanguard Award recipient, and we saw a commanding performance from Lizzo and others including Bad Bunny, J BalvinLil Nas X and more.

New York City is poised to enter phase three of the reopening plan on July 6 (which may or may not include indoor dining and is set to include nail salons and personal-care services like tattoo parlors.) Phase Four, which has no tentative date yet on the calendar for New York City, allows low-risk arts, entertainment and recreation business to reopen with social distancing mandated. Gatherings of up to 50 people will also be allowed. 

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