Is the Governor’s plan to reopen performance theaters financially feasible?

One artistic director says the limited attendance won't bring in enough to pay performers.
Updated: Aug. 22, 2020 at 11:20 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Gov. Mike DeWine says live theaters can reopen soon. But a number of restrictions will be put in place, and some in the theater industry feel those restrictions will make reopening nearly impossible.

As part of Responsible Restart Ohio – Gov. DeWine has given the green light for live/performance theaters to reopen but with only 15% seating capacity.

So could the bright light of Playhouse Square in Cleveland and other live performance venues come alive again?

The Ohio Board of Health needs to sign off on the guidelines. But some are concerned the threat of COVID-19 could steal the show.

Marty Drake and his children from Maryland made a stop in Cleveland and were walking in Playhouse Square, “I really just think we need to air on the side of caution and public health. And I really love the theater myself, but if we don’t reopen safely it’s just going to extend it longer.”

Part of the Governor’s guidelines includes a cap on attendance. For inside theaters that mean the lesser of 15% of the seating capacity or 300 people. Outside venues are also limited with the lesser of 15% of their fixed seating capacity or 1500 people.

Celeste Cosentino, the executive artistic director of the Ensemble Theater in Cleveland Heights tells 19 News, “The plan is not financially feasible at least for smaller, indoor theaters. Also, there’s still a major concern about the safety of the performers.”

Cosentino adds that with so few people attending, what you bring in at the box office would make it impossible to keep things running and pay performers. However, some theater lovers say they would feel comfortable with the idea of reopening and enjoying the live performances.

Aubrey Melic is a student at Cleveland State University, “Of course I would feel comfortable. I feel like if we’re following the correct regulations, social distancing, and wearing masks, then I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to see things like this and attractions all around the city.”

Jocelyn Taylor says the guidelines help make her feel safe, “I feel like I feel safe that way because there’s less people.”

The guidelines also include those traveling from out of state and says, individuals traveling to Ohio from a state that’s on Ohio’s travel advisory must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrive – before participating in rehearsals and performances.

The Governor is also encouraging any theaters that plan to open to discourage intermission so that crowds won’t line up and congregate in the bathrooms or the lobby.

Stay with 19 News for updates on this developing story.

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