In the first in a series of virtual meetings presented by the National Endowment for the Arts focusing on “The Art of Reopening,” Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed his forecast that performance venues could potentially be able to welcome back full audiences by fall.
“This is no guarantee,” he warned. “And, at least initially, we may still need to wear masks. But if we continue to vaccinate as many people as we can as quickly as possible, however, I believe we will achieve a broad umbrella of protection—somewhere between 70 to 85 percent of people vaccinated—by late summer or early fall.”
The immunologist, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, added: “Those who are vaccinated will not only protect themselves, but also will serve as a dead end to virus spread, protecting the minority remaining who either cannot or have not been vaccinated.”
Dr. Fauci has cited this potential fall timeline in the past, including in a similar virtual conference from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals in January. Since then, President Biden has directed state governments to make all adults eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1. Industry professionals view the level of herd immunity that Dr. Fauci predicts as a crucial factor in reopening theatres, as reductions to capacity in turn reduce the financial viability of a large-scale show.
The March 23 webinar also featured Cincinnati Ballet President and CEO Scott Altman, Alabama-based Sidewalk Film Center Executive Director Chloe Cook, and GALA Hispanic Theatre Executive Director Rebecca Medrano, who each spoke to their respective organizations’ response to the coronavirus shutdown and its aftermath. Each touched on the significance of the vaccine rollout in their reopening plans, including ways to promote vaccine messaging and distribution information to their audiences. All three organizations are featured in the NEA’s “The Art of Reopening” research guide, published in January.
The NEA says it will continue to hold similar virtual conversations with representatives from other arts organizations on a monthly basis.