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What Could Reopening Arts And Culture Venues Look Like?

As different parts of the economy move to reopen, many arts and culture groups are discussing what reopening could look like for museums, theaters and music venues.

“We anticipate that we’ll see museums perhaps being more readily prepared to open sooner than performing arts organizations,” said Megan VanVoorhis, president of Arts Cleveland.

Museums could limit the number of people in galleries through timed entry and direct people to use different entrances, for instance, to space out the number of visitors.

“Museums often have multiple things. They might have theaters. They might have retail spaces. They might have cafes,” Van Voorhis said. “Each one of those things has to be looked at separately in terms of how you manage it.”

These factors could keep a museum’s performance space closed while galleries open based on different safety standards, she said.

Arts Cleveland facilitates weekly virtual discussions for leaders of arts organizations and artists to discuss issues they face due to the pandemic. Additionally, VanVoorhis participates in conversations through Ohio Citizens for the Arts and with Music Cities Together, an initiative between other large cities focused on reopening music venues.

“We will be coordinating that work here in Cleveland, and we'll have access to, you know, what folks both nationally and internationally are doing on that front,” she said.

Music venues are considering things like using outdoor space onsite to provide some live music with social distancing. There might also be opportunities for concerts at drive-ins, VanVoorhis said.

Large performing arts spaces built for crowds face additional challenges, particularly with social distancing, which could lead to fewer people in attendance.

“A lot of this is financial, too,” she said. “What does it mean to operate from a lesser capacity? And is that even economical?”

Social distancing is also a problem – or an opportunity – for performers onstage. Perhaps, through this period, theater artists develop ideas for productions six-feet apart, VanVoorhis said.

While leaders of arts and cultural organizations grapple with varying issues depending on their discipline, they all are talking about safety.

“The priority really is making sure that when we reopen that the public can feel safe,” she said.

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