After months of preparation and planning for the return to in-person arts events, Pittsburgh’s Cultural District organizations outline layers of defense against COVID-19 and the safety practices for guests, staff, volunteers, and artists—the latest of which is a vaccination and mask requirement
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, in coordination with Pittsburgh Cultural District arts organizations, announced today that guests attending indoor performances at Arcade Comedy Theater, August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Benedum Center, Byham Theater, Greer Cabaret Theater, Harris Theater, Heinz Hall, Liberty Magic, O’Reilly Theater, and 937 Liberty will be required to provide proof of vaccination.
Masks will also be required inside venues should levels of community COVID-19 transmission in Allegheny County reach ‘substantial’ or ‘high’ as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (status available at: covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view). Some events are subject to exception from this rule and will require audience members to remain masked regardless of community spread. These shows will be noted as such at all points of ticket purchase, alerting buyers of the mask mandate. Ticket buyers will also be contacted by guest services to confirm attendance requirements prior to the event. Real-time vaccination and masking requirements, and any updates, will continue to be available on each organization’s website.
The vaccine and masking policies begin with the return of indoor performances on September 17, 2021. They are currently set to run at least through November 30, 2021. Health and safety policies will continue to be regularly evaluated and adjusted based on community health data and public health and government guidance.
Guests will be required to be fully vaccinated with the Moderna, Pfizer, or Johnson & Johnson vaccine. They must show proof of vaccination at their time of entry into the theater with their valid ticket and driver’s license or government-issued identification. “Fully vaccinated” means that on the date of the performance, a guest has received their second dose of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, or their single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, at least 14 days prior.
All individuals entering a Cultural District venue must be vaccinated with exceptions for children under the age of 12 and people with a medical condition or closely held religious belief that prevents vaccination. Guests who fall into one of these exception categories must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within 24 hours of the performance start time. An official testing center must administer COVID-19 tests. Self-administered tests will not be accepted.
The leaders of each Cultural District organization, Abby Fudor of Arcade Comedy Theater, Janis Burley Wilson of the August Wilson African American Cultural Center, Jeffrey Carpenter of Bricolage, Harris Ferris of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Mark Fleisher of the Pittsburgh CLO, Kevin McMahon of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, Colleen Doyno of Pittsburgh Musical Theater, Mark Southers of Pittsburgh Playwrights, Christopher Hahn of Pittsburgh Opera, Marya Sea Kaminski and Lou Castelli of the Pittsburgh Public Theater, and Melia Tourangeau of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, came together in this decision. As each organization continues to invest in and preserve Pittsburgh’s Cultural District throughout the pandemic, each one has prioritized the health and safety of everyone who visits. Given the recent rise in cases and the severity of the Delta variant, the Cultural District’s leaders came to the difficult decision that the safest way to return to gathering for superior experiences in the arts is by requiring guests to be fully vaccinated and mask up when necessary.
Scott Shiller, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Vice President of Artistic Planning and the head of the Roadmap to Reopening committee, says, “Amid rising COVID-19 cases and the increasing threat of the Delta variant, we are implementing this layer of defense to provide the highest level of public safety for audiences, staff, volunteers, and artists. We feel that this measure, hopefully, a temporary one, will allow arts venues to open and remain open while individuals take the best precautions for their own health and safety. We all need to work together to successfully combat this virus and end the pandemic. I know our Pittsburgh community is up for the challenge.”
In addition to mandatory vaccinations and mask-wearing inside their venues, Cultural District organizations have each implemented a number of ‘layers of defense’ against COVID-19 throughout the pandemic. These include HVAC upgrades to enhance air filtration and quality, the installation of touchless fixtures in all venues, enhanced cleaning processes and procedures across all venues, and staff COVID Compliance Officer training. The use of EVOLV security screening will also be implemented to help expedite the entry process and limit physical contact.
“The goal of numerous layers of defense is to provide as much protection for our stakeholders as possible,” says Mr. Shiller. “While no single layer is strong enough on its own, together these will all contribute positively to the health and safety of our guests in the Cultural District. Requiring vaccinations is the most recent addition to our arsenal against COVID-19, and we hope that our guests will be comforted by it.”
All staff, volunteers, and artists in Cultural District venues are required to be fully vaccinated and to wear masks when they are not performing. Regular testing will also be utilized to ensure that those backstage remain healthy.
The Cultural District is proud to work in solidarity with the following area performing arts organizations who are also implementing similar attendance policies regarding proof of vaccine: Attack Theatre, City of Asylum, City Theatre, Off The Wall Productions/Carnegie Stage, MCG Jazz, Quantum Theatre, and Pittsburgh Playhouse at Point Park University. More information is available on their individual websites.
Cultural District officials will continue to follow the guidance of health and safety officials and will reevaluate these policies as needed in the coming months. Individual organizations and events may have additional protocols. Guests are encouraged to visit the website of the producing or presenting organization before attending for the most current protocols.
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