The Reopening of Virginia

Here is critical and important information/guidance with respect to the reopening of Virginia.

Return to Theater Survey – Wave 3 by Shugoll

This is the third wave of a study initially conducted in early April 2020. The second wave was completed in early July 2020. Each wave captures attitudes at any one point in time and reflects the state of the pandemic at that time. This wave is impacted by perceptions of a slow vaccine rollout and concerns about new COVID19 variants. Final DC Coronavirus Theater Report Wave 3 (1).

NEA Releases Reopening Guide for Arts Organizations

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has released a 42-page document called “The Art of Reopening,” a guide to current COVID-19 practices among arts organizations. The NEA conducted in-depth interviews with nine arts organizations to identify common practices among those who have successfully reopened their doors to audiences or visitors during the pandemic. In addition to these case studies, the NEA also drew from national service organizations in the arts, document scans, and interviews with arts management consultants.

New Report on Patrons Views on Returning to Theater, Safety Protocols and More

AudienceView and TheaterMania, an AudienceView consumer brand, have released a new COVID-19 impact report in which over 3,300 members of their online community were surveyed to better understand how the ongoing pandemic is impacting their behavior and consumption of performing arts. The report looks at safety protocols, timelines to return to theatres, near-term spending intent, and pay for virtual events, among other areas. AudienceView_COVID_Report_02_v03_compressed

Governor Northam Announces New Mitigation Measures; No Change for Arts Offerings

On December 10, 2020, Governor Northam announced increased mitigation measures through Executive Order 72 to combat COVID-19. Please note that the most relevant guidelines for arts organizations are found in section 12 (p. 10 – Entertainment and Amusement Businesses) and section 5 (p. 4 – Fitness and Exercise Facilities), the latter for consideration by dance studios, schools of ballet, etc. Essentially, the new guidelines pose no new impacts to in-person arts offerings. As we shared with the last announcement, the capacity for venues was reduced to “the lesser of 30 percent of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 250 persons.”

American Shakespeare Company Talks About Presenting Live Performances Again

Managing Director of the American Shakespeare Center Amy Wratchford – another theater company that is leading the way toward live performances beginning again. Wratchford talked about their experience in reopening, changes they had to make to remain socially distanced, lessons learned, and much more. Listen to the call here:

Barrington Stage Company Artistic Producer Branden Huldeen Advises About Restarting Live Performances and Events

As part of the Embracing Arlington Arts biweekly ZOOM call series, the Artistic Producer of Barrington Stage Company in Massachusetts Branden Huldeen talked about that theater’s reopening experiences. From obtaining proper sanitizing equipment to building upgrades to social distancing to providing safe working environment for actors and staffs, Branden offered much insight, best practices and sound guidance to the call participants who peppered him with numerous questions. Listen to the call here .

Updated Shugoll Survey Results on Patrons Returning to Live Performances/Theaters

As coronavirus numbers continue to rise in most U.S. states, the willingness of theatre patrons to return to their old theatregoing habits has plummeted, two tracking surveys show. In April, Shugoll Research, a national marketing research company in Bethesda, Md., conducted their first online survey with 743 D.C.-area theatregoers on their intent to return to the theatre when it reopens after the coronavirus pandemic, and found that just a quarter percent of respondents would attend “right away” whenever theatres reopen, and that only around half of respondents said they’d wait a few months before returning.

Those numbers were sobering then, but how do they look now? A new follow-up survey from Shugoll delivers the news: not good. Just 16 percent of respondents said they would consider rushing back to reopened theatres, down from 25 percent earlier, and a full 75 percent plan to wait a few months before returning, up from 49 percent in April. The earliest date most theatregoers say they’d be comfortable returning, according to the Shugoll report? May or June of 2021.

Meanwhile, Colleen Dilenschneider of IMPACTS Research & Development, who tracks “intent to visit” across regions and types of cultural institutions, and has begun to break this data into one-week, one-month, and three-month horizons, sees distinct depression in willingness to visit cultural institutions, with positive respondents in every region and timeline rarely or barely breaking above 25 percent.

ALSO, for this iteration of the survey, Shugoll added questions about respondents’ views of systemic racism in area theatres, and found that 50 percent of respondents agree that there is systemic racism in D.C.-area theatres, and 70 percent support the idea that area theatres must respond to the concerns expressed by artists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). The same percentage (70 percent) strongly feel theatres must take specific steps to fight racism through actionable change in their industry and beyond.

Survey Results Here.

Article on Arts Organizations Adapting Post-COVID World:

Aimed at helping arts and cultural organizations consider key questions and variables as they plan for reopening and a post-COVID-19 future, this SMU Data Arts report estimates the pandemic’s effect on the nonprofit arts sector and identifies three critical propositions and four prompting questions for consideration.

Input Provided to Governor’s Reopening Task Force from NoVA Arts Organizations:

Embracing Arlington Arts was asked by a member of Governor Northam’s “Reopening Task Force” to provide input and insight into how the state’s performing arts industry will be able to safely open when the COVID-19 case numbers decline enough. Here is an Executive Summary of the responses:

Overall, visual arts venues/galleries are looking to reopen in the fall, although without their usual opening receptions. They would follow CDC and regional guidelines for visitors to the gallery and require social distancing, masks and have sanitizer available.

Performing arts/theater responses tended to break down by budget size and whether they had their own venue. Larger organizations with their own venues anticipate not reopening until January/February/March 2021, or when a vaccine and/or effective treatment is available.

Mid-sized theater organizations with their own venues offered mixed responses, with some hopeful that they could open in the fall, but others saying not until a vaccine was available. They all are anticipating social distancing, limited seating, masks, etc. Others are researching other options and replanning their production schedule and types of performance.

The smaller theater organizations who perform out of rented venues are more hopeful that they can begin productions in the fall. However, they all state that the ultimate decision is up to the venue.

Every organization submitting responses have ramped up their online content, are keeping in close contact with their patrons and supporters through email, social media and telephone calls, and are making plans for even more live streaming events and programming.

Governor Northam’s Phase Two Guidelines:

Governor Northam has released the guidelines for the Phase 2 reopening of Virginia.

Click to access Virginia-Forward-Phase-Two-Guidelines.pdf


The Reopening Guide addresses health and sanitary issues that event and venue professionals need to consider in order to protect both patrons and workers.  Since there is still insufficient testing, no contact tracing, and no vaccine against COVID-19, this guidance is particularly detailed.  The first edition is tailored to be especially useful for event professionals reopening the smallest events with the fewest resources available to mitigate their risks, since in every municipal reopening plan these will be allowed to reopen first.

Click to access PACC%20Reopening%20Advisory%20%20Draft%20%20%20%20%20%20%20Ver%204.0.pdf

Sample Criteria for Reopening Arlington:

For an illustration of what those criteria for reopening Virginia are likely to look like, here a handout from Arlington’s Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese to the Metro Washington Council of Governments. (NOTE: These are not formally adopted criteria yet.)

Re-Opening Criteria _ Handout from MWCOG.


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