Performance Buildings in a Post-Pandemic World
What awaits us when artists and audiences return?
It's true that Broadway didn't close during the so-called "Spanish" flu, but public entertainment venues were indeed closed in London and almost every other city in the US. While the performing arts industry is currently reeling from the blanket closure of venues, we can find useful guidance in the precedent of that earlier pandemic.
Following the re-opening of theatres, there was increased scrutiny of the health-worthiness of places for entertainment. Public health was on the mind of the theatre-going public and theatres began to boast about ventilation in advertisements.
The closure of venues in 1918 was not a death knell for the arts. The decade after the 1918 flu, fuelled by the post-war boom, saw the rapid development of theatre venues and a sustained period of well-funded creative development.
As audiences and artists return, venues will need to make a number of quick shifts. Audiences will need to be assured that attending events is safe. The conditions for artists, likewise, may need to be modified according to new best practice. Short-term impacts on certain performance types may also be experienced. We have every confidence that post COVID-19 performance practice will look largely the same as before.
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