Sarasota Arts Groups Introduce New COVID-19 Safety Rules
Starting this week, patrons will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to all indoor shows.
Sarasota's live arts organizations were among the hardest hit by the pandemic.
Canceled seasons and long-term closures had a significant impact on what comprises one of the three largest employment sectors in Sarasota County.
Now, theater companies, concert halls, the opera and the orchestra have teamed up for the uniform initiative, Safe Arts Sarasota.
Leaders of more than two dozen arts groups in Sarasota say they've heard from an increasing number of patrons and artists who want safety protocols in place, and that failure to so would put these organizations in danger of once again closing their doors.
Nine of the area’s largest performing arts groups including
Asolo Repertory Theatre, Circus Arts Conservatory, Florida Studio Theatre, The Hermitage Artist Retreat, Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Orchestra, Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, first announced they would follow a uniform set of safety protocols as a new cultural season gets underway.
Since then, dozens more have said they will do the same.
The measures require patrons 12 and older to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of a performance for a PCR test or within 24 hours for an antigen or rapid test.
To avoid the testing measures, patrons may show proof they have been fully vaccinated for at least 14 days prior to a performance or entry.
All patrons 6 and older also must wear masks at all times inside the buildings.
In a group statement, the organizations said that, “our sector has been unable to operate normally since March 2020. Since the arts community is a major economic driver for the Suncoast, our organizations are working collaboratively to ensure that our patrons can continue to safely experience the joy of live performances, and we can keep our artists and our staff employed.”