Is It Safe to Return to the Theater?
A few weeks ago, we announced our 2020/21 Season Reset. Since that time, we have received great feedback on the postponement of our previously announced season as well as the productions we have chosen for our Season Reset. We appreciate your patience, understanding and support during this unprecedented moment.
The primary question we are getting now is – is it safe to return to live, in-person performances?
We have taken a safety first approach to COVID-19 from the very early days of the pandemic, shutting down our venues before being ordered to do so. We will continue to do the right thing and prioritize the safety of our patrons, artists and staff.
In order to reopen, our safety plan must be approved by the multiple performing arts unions that are represented at our theater. In conjunction with public health officials, medical doctors on our board, and other subject matter experts, we developed a 26-page COVID-19 safety manual that has been submitted to United Scenic Artists, Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, and Actors’ Equity Association. To date, our protocols have been provisionally cleared by three out of the four and we continue to work collaboratively with Actors’ Equity Association to get their endorsement soon. We appreciate the input from our union partners as we work together to create the safest possible environment.
We’ve also taken extensive steps to ensure patron safety, as well as the safety of our artists. More information on all our new protocols including social-distancing, requiring PPE, enhanced cleaning protocols and improved air filtration and circulation can be found at our COVID-19 update center.
While recognizing that it is impossible to make any environment completely safe, it’s important to recognize two things:
1. Safety is a very personal decision. Each time we leave the house, there are risks to our safety, but with reasonable precautions, those risks are mitigated for most people. However, some remain more at risk than others. Our goal is to make our theaters the safest possible environments for the majority of the population. By being completely transparent and providing detailed information on our protocols to everyone on our website, we empower our artists and audiences to make personal safety decisions for themselves. For those in high-risk populations and persons that feel uncomfortable attending in person, we are thrilled to be able to offer virtual performances that can be streamed directly to homes.
2. We are healing from emotional and psychological trauma. Many things that we enjoyed came to a screeching halt instantly due to a global pandemic. Most were rightfully terrified by the impacts on life from COVID-19. Six months later, we have much more scientific data, new therapeutics and treatments, and we understand the precautions we need to take. While we advance our capabilities to combat COVID-19, we also need to heal from the trauma of the last six months. There is growing evidence that theaters can reopen safely with strict safety protocols before returning to normal in late 2021, including these recent remarks by Dr. Fauci. In a recent interview in the Milwaukee Business Journal with Dr. John Raymond, President & CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, Dr. Raymond states that the time for severe lockdowns has passed and that businesses can reopen with simple precautions. Emotionally though, it may be difficult to reconcile the science with how we are feeling. Reopening in incremental steps and providing audiences with the ability to attend both live and virtually, will help instill confidence that the recommendations we have received and the guidelines from public health officials are sound.
We understand that you still may have questions and we would be happy to connect with you. If you are an artist, please contact Laura Braza, Artistic Producer. If you are a patron, please call our Ticket Office at 414-224-9490. We are also looking to schedule virtual town halls with our medical and public health experts so that we can answer any questions that you may have as well. Please stay tuned.