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Songs For Shots: Mayor's 'Music Heals' Program Pays Musicians to Perform at NYC Vaccination Sites

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New York City residents who get vaccinated in the coming weeks may be treated to musical performances during their appointments, thanks to a new program employing local artists to play for vaccine staff and recipients.

The program, "Music Heals," launches Friday (May 7) from New York Mayor Bill de Blasio's Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and musicians' union AFM Local 802. Hundreds of local musicians -- many of whom lost income due to the pandemic -- will participate in the one-hour paid performance gigs, which take place at 11 city-run vaccination centers across the five boroughs through June 20.

"Music Heals supports local musicians, and lets every New Yorker working at a vaccination site know how much we appreciate them," said MOME commissioner Anne del Castillo. "In many ways, this is a celebration of New Yorkers doing their part to ensure a strong reopening, while reminding us of the creativity and culture that is so core to the city’s identity."

The program will provide participating musicians with fair wages and benefits under union guidelines. It follows up "Music for the Soul of NYC's Health + Hospital Heroes," a series launched by the MOME, AFM Local 802 and NYC Health + Hospitals last spring, where local musicians performed virtually for staff and patients at public hospitals in the city.

"We're proud that our city’s diverse musicians are providing live music to encourage New Yorkers to get vaccinated, which is the key to re-opening NYC," added AFM Local 802 president Adam Krauthamer. "We’re extremely thankful to the city for investing in this excellent program, which lets the public enjoy great music for a great cause."

Deputy mayor for health and human services Melanie Hartzog added that "understanding the value that art and music can have on healing, it’s only fitting that we now bring live performances to our COVID-19 vaccination sites across the city, all the while thanking the healthcare heroes who have played a vital role in our recovery."

The performances kick off while the entertainment business in New York City remains limited, even as other businesses prepare to open. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that he will lift most industry capacity restrictions on May 19, including at retail stores, restaurants, hair salons and more, but outdoor and indoor music venues are still restricted.

"Music and vaccination are a harmonious pairing as both promote the health of New Yorkers," added New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. "The vaccination hubs are places of joy and I can't think of a better way to celebrate them than with song."

Find more information and list of participating vaccination sites here.