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Kranzberg Survey: Arts Fans Want A Coronavirus Vaccine Before Returning To Venues

Chris Hansen of Kranzberg Arts Foundation stands on the stage of The Grandel Theatre.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio
Kranzberg Arts Foundation executive director Chris Hansen stands on the stage of the Grandel Theatre, one of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation venues.

More than half of people who frequently visit performing arts venues operated by the Kranzberg Arts Foundation said they'll feel comfortable returning once there is a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent survey.

The foundation created the survey to gauge when its patrons would be comfortable returning. The organization, which operates the Kranzberg, .ZACK, the Dark Room and other spaces, sent the survey out last week and posted it to social media, receiving 915 responses.

“We just got a deeper insight into where people are at currently,” Kranzberg Arts Foundation Marketing and Communications director Andrew Warshauer said. “Obviously this is going to keep changing as more information is released and as the situation changes.”

Respondents were presented with multiple options and were allowed to select multiple answers. About 65% of survey respondents said they would be comfortable returning to venues once a vaccine is developed. About 63% said they would attend events if the venues operate under a reduced capacity.

Half of survey respondents said they would feel comfortable if they could avoid lines to enter the venue spaces. Fewer than 10% said they would consider returning to venues if the Kranzberg made no changes at all. 

“Clearly the majority of people in addition to wanting a vaccine want to be able to enjoy the arts with this kind of social distancing policy, having a little bit more limited capacity in performing arts venues, in galleries, to be able to still enjoy the arts but do so at safe distances,” Warshauer said.

The foundationannounced last week that it’s working on a set of protocols to determine how its theaters will reopen and how they would implement social distancing guidelines. The new policies include daily temperature tests for casts and crews and limiting theaters to a quarter of their usual capacity with the percentage increasing over time.

“We are working to safely reopen the spaces and to develop the policies and procedures to make it possible,” Warshauer said. 

Nearly half of survey respondents also said they would feel most comfortable in audiences of 25 people or less. In comments to the foundation, patrons also requested that venues require all audience members to wear masks, Warshauer said.

The desire to be with a limited number of people isn’t surprising, as many people are still trying to figure out when it’s safe to return to venues and events,” said Enbal Shacham, a professor at St. Louis University College of Public Health and Social Justice.

“People are unsure, and it’s unclear how they will reopen their lives again,” Shacham said. “There’s a lot of hesitancy, and I think that’s reasonable to be hesitant. We just need to figure out what feels right, and hopefully that feeling is based in data and science.”

Warshauer said the Kranzberg Arts Foundation will use the survey results and guidance from local health officials to make decisions on audience and performer safety and will relay the information to theater companies.

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

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Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.