New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the 2020 MTV Video Music Awards will go on in Brooklyn this summer in spite of the coronavirus pandemic. The governor held a press conference on Monday, confirming that the award show will be allowed to go on with limited or no audience at the end of August. The adjustments are intended to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the city.
Cuomo confirmed that the VMAs will go on in Brooklyn on Sunday, Aug. 30 in his first press conference of the week, according to a report by Entertainment Tonight. The governor has been in talks with MTV since May, as the entertainment industry rushes to adapt to the impact of the virus. "We're exploring with government officials, the medical community and key stakeholders on how to safely hold the 2020 VMAs at Barclays Center on August 30th," a spokesperson told Variety at the time. "The health of everyone involved is our number one priority. Additionally, we are working on several contingency plans to bring music's biggest night to audiences everywhere."
The announcement follows audience-free, virtual ceremonies for both the Daytime Emmy Awards and the BET Awards over the weekend. However, the VMAs have not been held at the Barclays Center since 2013. The event could be a big help to New York City, which has been heavily impacted by the pandemic.
So far, other award shows have adjusted easily to the limit or absence of an in-person audience. In some ways, the new format has provided artists with more freedom, such as DaBaby and Roddy Ricch's performance of the "Rockstar BLM Remix" at the 2020 BET Awards on Sunday. The live performance turned into more of a music video, but fans were impressed.
It also helps that the audience at home is largely starved for interactive events. The VMAs could see as much engagement as usual or even more, since fans are stuck at home social distancing. So far, the effect of social distancing on other live TV events in the last few months has been inconsistent, but experts have a close eye on the trends.
At the time of this writing, New York City has had over 215,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 17,665 deaths in total. That is a substantial percentage of the United States' 2.59 million confirmed cases and 128,000 total deaths. The city's close quarters made the virus particularly dangerous there when it first hit, but it also means that the city has worked harder to adjust than some other parts of the country.
While he was optimistic about the VMAs, Cuomo's press conference on Monday made it clear that he is not letting up. He said that he is considering slowing down the re-opening of businesses and public spaces to ensure that NYC does not see the same spike in new cases that Texas, Florida and other states are experiencing.