MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's performing arts organizations will now require audiences to provide either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of events.
The requirement includes everyone ages 12 and up attending indoor performances.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department supports the decision, along with other organizations including Summerfest, The Pabst Theater Group, Milwaukee Film and the larger Milwaukee arts community.
The following organizations will use the COVID-19 precautions: Black Arts MKE, First Stage, Florentine Opera, Marcus Performing Arts Center, Milwaukee Ballet, Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, Present Music, and Skylight Music Theatre.
Each organization may have different protocols. If you have any questions, you should contact the individual organization directly. The organizations will offer refunds for previously purchased tickets.
“The health and safety of our audiences, artists and staff remain the top priority for all of us in the Milwaukee performing arts community,” said Kendra Whitlock Ingram, Marcus Performing Arts Center President and CEO. “Our industry faced tremendous challenges and financial devastation over the past 18 months, and this precautionary step will give us the ability to stay in business and ensure live performances can continue safely throughout the city.”
"Our sincere hope is that enough people will get vaccinated to where we reach heard immunity, and some of these mitigation steps will no longer be needed going forward. But time will tell," said Chad Bauman, executive director at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater.
Similar requirements have been rippling throughout the arts community, including at venues in New York City and Chicago.
Milwaukee County's chief health policy adviser, Dr. Ben Weston, believes these changes benefit the whole community.
"They can feel much more comfortable going to these events. I think it's great for the events. They can be more sustainable they don't have to have their performers or employees constantly on quarantine and isolation," Dr. Weston.
Communicating the changes in advance will be key.
"We are not public health experts, and so it was important for us to really listen to the public health experts that work in the field and listen to our medical advisory team, which has kept us safe during the entire pandemic," Bauman said.
"I think we all have found how incredibly awful it is to not have a life performance for 16, 17 months, and we don't want to go through another season like that, so this is going to help us to get there," said Ingram.