With the news that capacity restrictions are being loosened in most sectors across the state, including theaters/performing arts, starting May 19, the headlines were looking hopeful.
However, the fine print is not quite as cheery. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Monday that capacity at large indoor events will still be limited to 30%, a 10% increase.
Social distancing, masks and providing proof of vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test are all still required.
On Wednesday afternoon the governor announced that capacity at large-scale outdoor event venues will be limited only by the space needed for attendees to maintain social distancing. However, attendees who can provide proof that they are fully vaccinated don’t have to be seated six feet apart, though they must be seated in a designated area.
It doesn’t change very much for the Palace Theatre at the moment though, according to Sean Allen, the director of marketing.
The theater has been live-streaming shows but hasn’t held in-person concerts since the pandemic began. The next event on the schedule is slated for July 23.
“I think the overall feeling is by the time we get to the summer things will be much more normal,” Allen said on Tuesday.
While the new guidelines don’t allow the venue to immediately begin hosting concerts, they do allow for the possibility of hosting community-centered events.
“How this does benefit us is that when we’re looking at doing things like our free summer movie program, knowing that there is the possibility to get people in the building . . . makes it something that we may be able to look at doing. Things like that are on our radar now for the summer; things that we can do probably for the community,” Allen said.
Nearby, The Egg is hoping to resume full-capacity shows by mid-August, should restrictions lift. Tanya Tucker and Walker Country are slated to perform on Aug. 13, followed by comedian Nate Bargatze on Aug. 26.
When it comes to Proctors, theREP and Universal Preservation Hall, not too much will change for the time being.
“We are in a business with long lead times . . . sort of a supply chain. Our plans for the coming summer and fall are pretty firm and there is little we could do now to advance our events forward,” said Philip Morris, CEO of Proctors Collaborative.
“In addition, requirements for continued social distancing with vaccine and test confirmations are still pretty high bars for admission. Much more will change in the coming months and we look forward to sharing our plans very soon.”
At the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the new guidelines don’t change anything just yet. As long as the six-foot social distancing rules are in place, the venue will remain at 20% capacity with seating in socially distanced pods. SPAC is planning to host its annual Jazz Festival June 26-27 and a small group from the New York City Ballet will perform from July 14-17.
Live Nation, which presents pop concerts at SPAC, has not responded yet to questions about its upcoming summer season. However, Trey Anastasio announced earlier this week that he would be performing three solo shows at SPAC from June 18-20 and there are several other rescheduled performances on the Live Nation calendar.
While the guidelines don’t have an immediate effect on many theaters and performing arts venues in the area, some arts leaders still see it as an improvement.
“It is positive and I hope it continues to go in that direction,” Allen said.
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