More than 65 performing arts venues across the Chicago area have unified to require audience members to provide proof of either their full COVID-19 vaccination status or a negative COVID test in order to attend indoor productions, The League of Chicago Theatres announced.
The agreed-upon guidelines, which also require audience members to wear masks inside venues, will go into effect by Sept. 1, the theater alliance said. Performers, crews and staff also will comply with requirements.
"The arts and cultural community is embedded in the fabric of Chicago," said League of Chicago Theatres Executive Director Deb Clapp in a statement. "Not all of the League’s more than 200 member theatres will be able to open this Fall. We are pleased that many members of our vibrant performing arts community that will be opening have come together to craft a unified response to this crisis so that audiences can once again experience the joy of live performance without future disruption."
While specific guidance varies by venue, the alliance stressed that "patrons will need to be masked and fully vaccinated with an FDA authorized vaccine in order to attend an indoor performance and must show proof of vaccination and identification at their time of entry into the venue with their valid ticket."
"Where negative tests are accepted," the guidance continues, "guests may provide proof of a COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken within 6 hours of the performance start time."
Theaters that have agreed to the guidance so far, according to the alliance, include: 16th Street Theater, A Red Orchid Theatre, About Face Theatre, Aguijón Theatre, Albany Park Theatre Project, American Blues Theater, Apollo Theater Chicago, Artemesia Theatre, The Artistic Home, Aston Rep Theatre Company, Athenaeum Theatre, Auditorium Theatre, Babes with Blades, Black Button Eyes Productions, Bluebird Arts, Brightside Theatre, Broadway In Chicago, Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble, Chicago Humanities Festival, Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, Chicago Magic Lounge, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, Chicago Youth Shakespeare, Court Theatre, First Floor Theatre, First Folio Theater, Goodman Theatre, Greenhouse Theatre Center, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Hell in a Handbag, Her Story Theatre, High Concept Labs, House Theatre of Chicago, International Voices Project, The Joffrey Ballet, Lookingglass Theatre Company, Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Marriott Theatre, Midsommer Flight, The Neo Futurists, The New Coordinates, Northlight Theatre, Oak Park Festival Theatre, Oil Lamp Theater, Old Town School of Folk Music, Paramount Theatre, Piven Theatre Workshop, Pivot Arts, Playmakers Laboratory, Porchlight Music Theatre, Pridearts, Promethean Theatre Ensemble, Raven Theatre, Red Tape Theatre, Rivendell Theatre Ensemble, Saint Sebastian Players, Saltbox Theatre Collective, The Second City, Shattered Globe Theatre, Skokie Theatre, Stage Left Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Theatre Wit, Three Brothers Theatre, Timeline Theatre Company, UrbanTheater Company, Victory Gardens Theater, WildClaw Theatre, Williams Street Repertory Theatre and Writers Theatre.
Audiences are encouraged to check with theaters for specific guidance before attending a performance.
“We are all excited to welcome back audiences and once again enjoy the power and connection of live performances," said Chicago Shakespeare Theater Executive Director Criss Henderson. "Throughout the pandemic, we have prioritized the health and well-being of our staff, artists and patrons. This collective decision is the next step in that commitment so that we all can get safely back to what we miss and love.”
“We at Lookingglass believe in togetherness and in presence," said Lookingglass Theatre Company Artistic Director Heidi Stillman. "The measures we are taking in solidarity with our sibling institutions are to help ensure that togetherness and presence will come back and stay back and that theatre itself will survive."
"We are united in our efforts to keep the health and safety of our audiences, artists and staff paramount," said Lyric Opera of Chicago General Director, President and CEO Anthony Freud. "Though the policies of individual artistic companies across the city may vary, depending on their audiences and facilities, our goal is clearly the same as we build the safest path back to live performances."