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Want To See A Show At St. Louis Venues? Get Vaccinated Or Show Negative COVID-19 Test

Powell Hall in St. Louis. Home of the St. Louis Symphony.
Alise O'Brien
Leaders of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, which performs at Powell Hall, coordinated an effort by arts organizations to announce coronavirus safety measures.

Some of the largest arts organizations and venues in St. Louis announced Wednesday that they will require audience members, employees, volunteers and artists to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative coronavirus test for indoor events. The group includes the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, the Black Rep and 13 others.

The venues and organization join Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, the Pageant, Delmar Hall and Off Broadway, which recently began requiring audience members to show proof of vaccination or a negative test after the delta variant fueled a resurgence of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“It was triggered by [the desire to] reassure audiences that we would do everything to ensure that their safety is our priority,” said Marie-Hélène Bernard, president and CEO of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. Orchestra leaders coordinated the joint announcement.

Other signees include the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, STAGES St. Louis, St. Louis Shakespeare Festival, National Blues Museum, the Black Rep, Modern American Dance Company, the Bach Society of St. Louis, Dance St. Louis, the Sheldon Concert Hall and Art Galleries, St. Louis Speakers Series, Jazz St. Louis and Grand Center Inc.

Participating groups and venues may enact somewhat different coronavirus protocols, such as vaccination requirements for outdoor venues where the virus spreads less readily, and policies for young audience members for whom the FDA hasn’t yet approved COVID-19 vaccinations. But all will require proof of vaccination or a negative test at indoor events from staff, volunteers, artists and audience members who are at least 12 years old.

Nearly all patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in St. Louis area hospitals did not get the vaccine. Vaccinated individuals still may contract and spread the virus but are likely to experience only mild symptoms, if any.

By announcing their policies jointly, the participating organizations hope to better communicate to audience members that arts organizations are taking strict safety measures as more groups return to staging live events, arts leaders said.

“As one voice, all these incredible cultural organizations have a little more overall weight than any one may have by themselves, ”said Joe Gfaller, managing director of Metro Theater Company. The message, he said, is to “make sure that arts patrons in our region know that the cultural organizations they love and value and respect are doing everything in their power to protect them and protect those that they love, during this next wave of the pandemic, as we reopen.”

Audience members responding to surveys indicated they are more willing to attend a live performance if patrons, staff and artists are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or show a negative coronavirus test, Bernard and Kranzberg Arts Foundation Executive Director Chris Hansen have said.

Organizers of the three-day Music at the Intersection festival in Grand Center set for later this month announced last week that attendees will need to provide proof of coronavirus vaccination or a recent negative test.

Follow Jeremy on Twitter: @jeremydgoodwin

Jeremy is the arts & culture reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.