June 20, 2021—I am both delighted and thrilled about the current re-openings of arts organizations and cultural institutions more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the massive shuttering of doors.
One thing is certain—there are many considerations and decisions that must be made before the public can safely return to our revered halls and venues to again experience the joy of live concerts, dance, theater, or the visual arts.
I decided to check out some of the behind-the-scenes planning and activity at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), which will resume live, in-person and indoor performances at the end of this week. I believe the readers of Arts & Culture Connections can benefit from learning about the steps NJPAC has taken towards its reopening with the goal of maintaining the safety and health of its guests, staff, volunteers, and artists.
Over the past year, NJPAC President and CEO John Schreiber and his team have collaborated with medical and engineering professionals to establish best practices for hosting safe, live performances. One of the best practices adopted was the decision that NJPAC would become the first cultural or arts venue in the state to require that its patrons provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of full vaccination. You can find full details at this link.
About this requirement, David Rodriguez, the Arts Center’s Executive Producer, said: “It is our goal to ensure that NJPAC is the safest performing arts space in the region.” He added: “Should government regulations and CDC guidance change in the future, these policies will be adjusted.”
As part of its reopening preparations, NJPAC also invested in multiple venue upgrades, including the installation of new, state-of-the art HVAC air purification systems in all of its theaters. NJPAC’s housekeeping staff will be using medical-grade cleaning products recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), and the staff will follow a new protocol for regularly cleaning and sanitizing all areas of the campus. In addition, NJPAC has added electrostatic cleaning to ensure that disinfectants reach and cover all surfaces in the building.
Other changes NJPAC guests will find when they return are:
Touchless temperature checks of all patrons at the door.
The requirement of masks that cover both noses and mouths for all guests over the age of two.
Touchless ticketing for all guests with mobile devices.
Hand sanitizer stations throughout.
“Touchless” faucets, toilets and paper towel dispensers in all restroom areas.
Full refunds, including fees, or exchanges for tickets purchased directly from NJPAC when performances are cancelled due to COVID-19.
And in “paw-nership” with the Associated Humane Society in Newark, NJPAC created a heart-warming video for the general public, which features cute dogs available for adoption, to share its upgrades and new policies. Be sure to check out the video here.
I hope you will join me in making the commitment to support all of our invaluable arts and cultural institutions as they reopen. We not only need the arts, our institutions also need our support!
As always, I’d like to know what you think. What do you think about the reopening efforts? What performance, museum, concert, dance, play or exhibition do you plan to attend? Or, if you’re still avoiding crowds or indoor spaces, what would it take for you to attend an arts or cultural event?
I have a Juneteenth update. Since last week’s blogpost, both the U.S. Senate and the House, with bipartisan support, passed legislation making Juneteenth a federal holiday. And President Biden signed the bill on June 17th. This past Friday was the first time in American history that Juneteenth was observed as a federal holiday.
This has been a long-time coming! And one of the people we should all thank is Opal Lee, known as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.” Read all about her life-long determination to make June 19th a federal holiday at this link.