Performing Arts Venues Across Oregon Ask For Clear Reopening Guidelines
Last week, performing arts venues from across Oregon asked state leaders for guidance on how to resume business. They say the Governor’s office ignored most of their questions, making it nearly impossible to plan for this summer.
The coalition of event producers met with Governor Brown’s office and Oregon’s state health Officer last Wednesday, hoping to draft a reopening plan for music festivals, concerts, theater, and other live performance events.
David Schmitz, the executive director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, says that what they need most are clear guidelines to be able to plan ahead.
“Our goal is to safely reopen. We’re not pushing for something that is unsafe," said Schmitz. "We want to be safe. But we also recognize that our industry is incredibly important to the economic vitality of our communities, and we need to put plans in place to get ourselves open.”
The group asked for data-driven capacity limits, time to plan for events, and restrictions that match those of other gathering spaces, like bars and churches.
“We need clarity," said Schmitz. "We need guidance that is scientifically based, that is equitable across the various business types, and we need to understand on a longer timeline than two to four weeks from now what kind of benchmarks we’ll be looking at when it is possible for us to safely reopen.”
Aside from the Shakespeare Festival, The Britt Music and Arts Festival in Jacksonville and the Les Schwab Amphitheater in Bend are among the more than two dozen arts venues involved.
Schmitz says that because event staff are used to managing large crowds, and because many events take place outdoors, Oregon venues are especially COVID-safe.
Neither the Governor’s office nor the Oregon Health Authority responded to requests for comment.