It’s been almost one year since Stageworks Theatre temporarily closed its doors due to COVID-19. Now, with 2021 starting to fill up with academy classes and shows on the main stage, we are eager to start bringing everyone back safely to the theatre we love.
Stageworks Theatre recently conducted a survey with our patrons to gauge readiness to return to the theatre. With almost 500 responses, we have learned one thing for sure. Nobody 100% agrees on how returning to theatre should look. Curious about how your opinion compares to others? Here is an overview of the survey results.
The first question asked simply, “As Stageworks continues to follow COVID-19 guidelines and encourage safety for all patrons and actors, do you feel comfortable returning to theatre?”
Although we won't be able to please everybody, it appears that over 65% of our patrons are comfortable returning to shows, if we continue to manage the environment responsibly. This is great news for a small community theatre who was uncertain about its future a year ago.
When Is the Time Right to Return to See Shows?
For those who answered NO to number one, we followed up with, “Please let us know what it would take for you to return.” It appears that the only thing we are not able to control on this list is, “When the vaccine comes more available” option. The great news is that this seems to be happening!
Stageworks Theatre Survey Quotes
We provided an option to add additional comments, and we had quotes from every corner of possible opinions! A few included:
“Time to move forward. 99% of your patrons will always be fighting a virus of some kind, let's get on stage and perform!!!”
“I felt very safe at Christmas time. Even brought my grandchildren.”
“I will return when masks are no longer required.”
“Offer mandatory mask shows and optional mask shows.”
“Require masks, perhaps even require proof of vaccination.”
“Open the theater to at least 50 - 75% capacity.”
“I think you have been very responsible in creating as safe a space as possible, but I need to wait 6 more months to assess the virus situation.”
“I think it’s more important to go on with normal activities than worrying about all the bad things that could potentially happen.”
“Since the governor has removed restrictions, I would be more likely to return to Stageworks if you did away with mask requirements and did away with social distancing.”
“Good luck to you. Miss your amazing theatrical talent. Masks should be worn as a necessity to respect others. If we were to walk into a theatre where the majority of patrons are maskless we would walk out.”
“Thank you for finding a way to make things work. I also enjoyed seeing Taming of the Shrew by the younger actors in January. I like the opportunity to see their performances at a time when I can attend. BTW, they did great!”
“Please unmask your actors. As an audience member, I’m happy to wear one of it makes people feel safer.”
“Put out a donation jar encouraging patrons to offset the loss of revenue due to Covid. Or add an option on ticket purchase app for the donation.”
“I am 70 years old & feel all people should be wearing masks until 75% of the population is vaccinated.”
“I will not return until masks are not required as I do not pay to sit in a mask. I do enough mask-wearing at work and grocery stores, I do not desire to wear one in my free time.”
"Please continue to follow CDC recommended guidelines. "We are done with Covid but it is not done with us." Especially since many of your patrons are elderly."
Since September, we’ve held classes and shows, with protocols in place, thanks to leadership from our Covid Czar, Michael Montgomery. We have similar restrictions to many places, with face masks and social distancing, but there have been two practices that we believe has allowed us to keep everybody as safe as possible.
REME HALO In-Duct Air Purifying System Installation. Last summer, we invested in one of these systems for each of our six air conditioning units. We believe that this has provided a critical level of risk reduction, comfort, protection and overall health and safety for our guests, volunteers, visitors, actors, staff, and artists.
Contact tracing. We have enforced strict removal or quarantine of people who are sick or have had possible exposure. We're not always popular when we make those decisions! Asking a student to not return to class because their parent has Covid is tough for everybody.So, What’s Next?
As we transition from full quarantine, to a more normalized environment, it's interesting to think about how our daily lives may change. At Stageworks, we are applying that same thinking to slowly getting back to packed audiences. We are starting to think about a phased approach:
Phase 1 - We are back in the theatre with very small groups. We mask fully and actors wear clear masks during performances. We installed the ionization system and engaged Raus Restoration for sanitization services. This is where we started in September.
Phase 2 - At this phase, actors perform without masks, but other protocols will remain. Seating capacity is 50%.
Phase 3 - As more vaccines are given, we can slightly increase seating capacity to 70%. At this phase, some shows may offer masks as an option, but not a requirement.
Phase 4 – Normalcy! As herd immunity takes shape, we anticipate the relaxing of mask requirements, whether in rehearsals, performances, or classes.
We are incredibly thankful for all who have walked this line with us throughout the pandemic.
Many of you asked questions that we are not able to answer because the survey we sent had anonymous responses. Please submit any questions directly to us at email@example.com. When Covid hit, we lost most of our staff and have had spotty communication. Our new Theatre Administrator, Eric Dunlap, is happy to get you answers and we are back online! Our box office hours (phone, in person, and chat) are Tuesday – Friday from noon – 6pm and Saturdays 9am – 3pm.
We are all looking forward to seeing you again, and thank all of our dedicated patrons and donors for their continued support and generosity. We are all in this together! Stageworks is OPEN, and we have shows coming up this year! Check out what's up soon!