Sarasota Opera & Other Local Arts Organizations Join Forces to Institute New COVID-19 Safety Protocols for Indoor Performances

By David Salazar

Sarasota arts organizations have announced new indoor safety measures ahead of the 2021-22 season.

Per a press release, “an increasing number of patrons and artists are extremely uncomfortable participating without strong health and safety protocols in place… in response to this situation and the current high community spread of the COVID-19 virus, leaders have been sharing experiences and research from their March 2021 initiative #SafeArtsSarasota, which helped enable local arts organizations to safely reopen to audiences after being shuttered through the pandemic.”

The ensembles, which include 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, have agreed that all patrons age 12 and over must present a negative PCR COVID-19 test no earlier than 72 hours before a performance or a negative rapid antigen COVID-19 test no earlier than 24 hours before the showcase. Patrons will also have the option of presenting a valid COVID vaccination record as an alternative to the negative test results.

Finally, all attendees, regardless of testing or vaccination status, must wear masks over their nose and mouth at all times inside the venue.

“Performing arts organizations have faced unprecedented challenges in this pandemic. 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. Our economic and creative vitality depends on providing the safest possible environment for everyone,” leaders of the arts organizations noted in a press statement.