FAQs on the latest information for re-opening for the arts

The RI Arts Council hosted a webinar on April 9, 2021, to update the arts community on the latest rules and regulations regarding re-opening for the arts this spring and summer. If you missed it, here is a link to the recording. Below are the questions and answers that were covered in the webinar.

The speakers were:
Department of Health, Steven Boudreau;
Commerce RI Benjamin Mays;
City of Providence, ProvidenceACT: Lizzie Araujo;
and Department of Business Regulation, Elizabeth Tanner.

Keep checking back here for updates. Also, sign up for our newsletter for the latest information.

FAQs Re-opening for the arts

Outdoor Events

Q: What are current restrictions on outdoor performances? Number of attendees, distancing and masks? How does the size of the space influence any and all of these factors?

A: Outdoor performances are restricted to the same capacity requirements as outdoor venues of assembly which are currently capped at 500 people. Six-foot distancing must always be maintained between people who are not from the same household and masks must always be worn.

Size of the area does not impact the capacity restrictions and 500 people is the maximum any outdoor venue of assembly can go up to. However, with the 6-foot distancing requirement, not all outdoor venues will be able to accommodate 500 people. The 6 foot-distancing requirement takes precedence over the 500-person maximum.

Q: What should we know about performers operating outdoors in front of an audience? Choral and instrumental spacing on stage? Masked or unmasked?

A: While performers are singing or playing an instrument that requires the use of their mouth, modify or adjust seating arrangements and use visual cues to keep them at least 14 feet apart when masks are not being worn.

Performers singing or playing wind instruments with masks on and using bell covers should be a minimum of six feet apart. If performers are masked and playing an instrument that does not require the use of their mouth, such as drums, guitar, violin etc., keep them six feet apart, but 14 feet apart from those who are using their mouths to play an instrument or sing without a mask. This includes specialty music performance masks such as masks with slits, or in outdoor rehearsals where appropriate physical distancing may be challenging or inconsistent, such as marching band.

Limit the sharing of props, costumes, and wigs. Designate personal props to each individual and mark with name tags. No sharing of voice projecting mechanisms such as microphones or headpieces. Even microphones and headpieces used by only one person should be disinfected after use.

Q: Do you have guidance on things like box office operations, food service (for audience and for performers, with masks off)? Organized in pods or general seating?

A: Contactless payment is encouraged. If food or drink is being served, designated areas should be created away from the general audience where patrons are able to remove their masks for eating and drinking purposes. These areas should follow the same restrictions that are placed on the restaurant sector.

Q: What are reopening guidelines for summer 2021 youth camps?

A: They are pending and should be available shortly. Subscribe to our e-newsletter where we will place updates or check back here for updates.

Indoor Events

Q: If we are in compliance with regulations, when will indoor performances be able to resume? What questions should we be considering as we start to think about in-person events once more?

A: Indoor performances can resume following the same restrictions that are placed on venues of assembly.

Q: What are current restrictions on indoor performances or art exhibits? Number of attendees, distancing, masks? How does the size of the space influence any and all of these factors?

A: In both performance venues and art exhibits, 6-foot distancing must always be maintained between people who are not from the same household. Indoor performance venues would be classified as venues of assembly.

Currently venues of assembly are restricted to 50 percent of the venues capacity and capped at 250 indoors and 500 outdoors. With the 6-foot distancing requirement, some venues may not be able to achieve the 50 percent capacity or capped thresholds.

Indoor art exhibits are restricted to one person per 50 square feet.

Q: Are there any differences among the kinds of performances? For example, youth theatre, dance, instrumental or choral music?

A: No

Ventilated/Unventilated spaces

Q: What are HVAC requirements for summer – small spaces with old air conditioning units or are poorly ventilated?

A: Individual venues should consult with the Department of Business Regulations with the specifics of their current HVAC capabilities.

Q: Will performers need to wear masks when they are off stage?

A: Yes, performers must wear masks when they are off stage.

Social distancing

Q: what are some best practices for audiences? If patrons are seated more than six feet apart, is it okay for them to remove masks?

A: No, even if the social distancing requirement is maintained at six feet, masks cannot be removed and must be worn throughout the duration of the event.

People from the same household may sit within 6 feet of one another, but those who are not from the same household must be sat at least 6 feet apart from one another.

Q: What guidelines exist for cleaning and disinfecting?

A: All covered entities shall ensure the performance of environmental cleaning of their establishments once per day, with particular attention paid to commonly touched surfaces, such as shared workstations, elevator buttons, door handles and railings. Covered entities shall use, and have readily available to service providers, cleaning/disinfecting products designed to clean/disinfect the surfaces they are cleaning/disinfecting and shall use the products in the manner intended.

Vaccinated, Tested, Infected

Q: Do you recommend testing prior to rehearsals or performances? Will proof of vaccination replace proof of a negative COVID test result?

A: The Health Department continues to recommend testing even for rehearsals and performances. Currently, proof of vaccination does not replace a negative COVID test.

Q: Are there any guidelines about distancing if all performers have been vaccinated? or if not?

A: The Executive Order currently in place mandates that six feet be maintained from people who are not from the same household regardless of vaccination status. Even those who have been vaccinated, should stay 6 feet apart from those who are not from the same household as them.

Q: If a performer, student or staff member tests positive for COVID, will the program or production need to be shut down for a period of time?

A: Depending on who is identified as a close contact of the person who has tested positive, the program or production may need to suspend operations.

Anyone who was within six feet of the positive individual for a total of 15 minutes or more, starting two days before their symptom onset or before a positive test was received, is identified as a close contact and must follow the quarantine guidelines. Current exemptions from close contact quarantine can be found in Executive Order 21-26.

Q: Can/should a venue collect written vaccination status from performers, staff, volunteers and audience members, and is this even allowable? how does one handle a non-vaccinated person?

A: We are not proposing this at this time.

If things go bad

Q: Can you share some force majeure contract language that specifically relates to COVID and capacity limits perhaps being changed if an uptick occurs?

A: All the current mitigation measures that are put into place and all the steps we have taken in reopening the economy can be scaled back if our public health measures do so require them to be. We want people to have the freedom of being able to plan their events and performances, but these plans must always have the caveat that there are back-up plans if capacity restrictions are reduced, or more strict mitigation requirements are put into place. We encourage individuals and event organizers to remain flexible. Whatever current capacity restrictions and mitigation measures are in the Executive Order at the time of your event are the ones you should follow and adhere to.

Additional information links and forms:

“How Are You Doing?”: Peer Support Calls for Arts and Culture Organizations

*Peer Support Calls will be “sunsetting” on Thursday July 9th. They will “sunrise” again in the late summer/early fall – stay tuned!*

During the time of the COVID-19 Crisis, RISCA will be hosting drop-in Zoom calls for arts and culture organizations and their staff. Scheduled for an hour, you can join for just a few minutes, or for the entirety of the call. To call-in via Zoom, see credentials below – no need to RSVP. This page will be updated with the call schedule regularly.

Facilitated or co-facilitated by Organizations Program Director Todd Trebour, we will have two types of sessions:

  • Free-form: you can share with fellow Rhode Island arts and culture organization staff how you are doing, what struggles you are having, what information you need, or what resources you have discovered. In turn, you can hold space for others, provide support, listen, and learn.
  • Topic-focused: while you can still share how you are doing, these calls will have a particular topic focus, e.g. fundraising in time of COVID-19, employment issues, etc., and will often have a co-facilitator.

In addition to being a form of peer support, these calls will inform RISCA staff as to how they can best support your arts and culture organizations at this difficult and uncertain time.

Interested in co-facilitating a call? Email Todd Trebour at todd.trebour@arts.ri.gov.

Call Schedule

  • Wednesday, March 18th 9:30 – 10:30 AM: Free-form.
  • Thursday, March 19th 12:00 – 1:00 PM: Free-form.
  • Tuesday, March 24th, 9:00 – 10:00 AM: COVID-19 and School Programs. With Maggie Anderson, RISCA’s Arts in Education Director. In addition to co-facilitating, Maggie will provide an update on K-12 schools and COVID-19’s impact.
  • Thursday, March 26th, 12:00 – 1:00 PM: Communicating the Value of Arts and Culture during COVID-19. With Mollie Flanagan, RISCA’s Individual Artists Program Director. As part of this, we will also share where things are at with federal level advocacy and where to turn for resources to know more.
  • Thursday, April 2nd, 12:00 – 1:00 PM. Livestreaming Performances and Concerts. With Max Ponticelli, General Manager at Wilbury Theatre Group and Lecturer in Theatre at URI. Max will talk about what kinds of livestreaming are happening and the different technical options and considerations. We will then have an open discussion and brainstorm ways Rhode Island organizations might effectively implement livestreaming during the time of COVID-19 and beyond.
  • Friday, April 3rd, 12:00 – 1:00 PM. Fundraising During the COVID-19 Pandemic. With Community MusicWorks. Geared towards people working in development (as either staff or board members). We will have an open discussion about the various strategies and messages arts and culture organizations are using in this time of crisis, and how they are effectively and honestly pivoting current campaigns.
  • Wednesday, April 8th, 10:00 AM – 11:00. What is Happening in the School and Art Education Space? With Maggie Anderson, RISCA’s Arts in Education Director. In addition to co-facilitating, Maggie will provide an update on the latest from RIDE, K-12 schools, COVID-19’s impact, and distance learning.
  • Friday, April 10th, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Our Season Ended Early – Now What? Co-facilitated with Michelle Cruz, Trinity Repertory Company. This will be an open conversation about what people did to end their season early, how they communicated it, and how they are going about thinking about next season (in this moment).
  • Thursday, April 16th, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Adapting Arts Programs to Virtual Platforms – What Are We Learning? Co-facilitator TBD. This will be an open conversation. What is working and not working about moving your programming into virtual platforms?
  • Friday, April 17th, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. What’s Your Experience Been with SBA Programs? With Mollie Flanagan, RISCA’s Individual Artists Program Director – other co-facilitator/s TBD. Share your experiences accessing the various federal aid programs (e.g. PPP, etc.), compare notes, and ask questions!
  • Thursday, April 23rd, 11 AM – 12:15 PM. Planning for Small Nonprofit Organizations During COVID-19. This is NOT a Peer Support Call, but a webinar RISCA is hosting in partnership with Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Foundation (RIF). This webinar will offer guidance for small and grassroots organizations who were ready to embark on strategic planning before the COVID-19 crisis. Presented by Dr. Jill Pfitzenmayer, Vice President of Capacity Building at RIF. For more information or to register, click here.
  • Friday, April 24th, 12 – 1 PM. Fundraising Check-In: How Is It Going? Or Not Going? This will be an open conversation where we will discuss what is working and not working for arts and culture nonprofits – and what you are learning right now that you can share with one another.
  • Tuesday, April 28th, 12 – 1 PM. Arts and Social Distancing: A Return to Normal. Facilitated by Randall Rosenbaum, RISCA, and Stephanie Fortunato, City of Providence Dept. of Art, Culture + Tourism. This will be an open conversation to share what thoughts or questions you are having about re-opening, and developing and implementing plans for long-term social distancing. We will share what information we have and thinking through things collectively. This call will have different call will use different call-in credentials – you can see those credentials here.
  • Thursday, April 30th, 10:30 – 11:30 AM. Equity and Access in Virtual Arts Programming. An open conversation facilitated by k. funmilayo aileru, AS220. What does equity and access look like in the new world of virtual and digital spaces? What assumptions are we making about access? What barriers – and supports to overcome those barriers – do we need to consider in creating programs that meet our community’s needs?
  • Wednesday, May 6th, 10:30 AM – 11:30. Organizations Working in the Art in Education Space – How Are You Doing? With Maggie Anderson, RISCA’s Arts in Education Director. On the first half of the call, Maggie will provide an update on the latest from RIDE, K-12 schools, and what is happening nationally/at the federal level that you all should be aware of. The remainder of the hour will be a free-form check-in.
  • Friday, May 8th, 10 AM – 12 PM. Development Director/Staff Spring VIRTUAL Get-Together. Join RISCA and Providence Public Library (PPL) for a gathering of Development Directors (or 1-2 staff/board members working on development) at arts and culture organizations! Co-hosted by the PPL’s Erica Busillo Adams and RISCA’s Todd Trebour, this virtual gathering will be via Zoom, and will use the “breakout” rooms feature to allow for smaller topic oriented conversations among alike organizations. Erica and Todd have planned a fun, super dynamic session. Max 2 attendees per organization – please RSVP here and note the different Zoom credentials. We have scheduled this until noon, but if you need to leave early, no worries!
  • Wednesday, May 13th, 12:00 – 1:00 PM. Arts and Social Distancing: Reopening Cultural Spaces. Facilitated by Randall Rosenbaum, RISCA, and Stephanie Fortunato, City of Providence Dept. of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT). Based on our April 28th conversation, ACT developed the RI Arts and Culture Re-emergence Self-Assessment Tool. We will review one section of the plan entitled “Cultural Spaces”. This will be geared toward Phase III and beyond Reopening RI, geared toward creating long-term safety plans for your facility that will allow for adapted use and operations. You will need to RSVP for this session here – call-in credentials are also included.
  • Thursday, May 21st, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM. Organizations Working in the Art in Education Space – Learn About RIDE’s Model for Summer Programs.  With Maggie Anderson, RISCA’s Arts in Education Director, and Stephen Osborn, Chief for Innovation at the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE). Stephen will present the model for RIDE summer programs, both limited in-person and digital, and will answer any questions.

  • Wednesday, June 3rd, 12:00 – 1:00 PM. Reopening RI for the Arts: Workplace Safety. Facilitated by Randall Rosenbaum, RISCA, and Stephanie Fortunato, City of Providence Dept. of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT); with special guest Chris Simonelli of Troop PVD. Note: this call has different call-in credentials. Click here for call-in credentials and more details on the Reopening RI for the Arts calls.

  • Thursday, June 4th, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Preparing for the ‘New Better’: Radical Collaboration –  What Does That Look Like? Facilitated by Todd Trebour, with Nancy Wolanski from Grantmakers’ Council of Rhode Island. Many organizations might disappear due to COVID-19 – how could organizations collaborate NOW – how do we pool resources to work together and support those we used to work with? What infrastructure and resources would be required? What changes in values, mindset, and policy would need to be in place?
  • Monday, June 8th, 10:00 – 11:00 AM. Organizations Working in the Art in Education Space: Walking Through the RIDE Summer Learning Application. With Stephen Osborn, Chief for Innovation at the Rhode Island Department of Education, and Maggie Anderson, RISCA’s Arts in Education Director. Stephen will walk us through the RIDE Summer Learning Opportunity Application and answer any questions we have. Note: this call has different call-in credentials. Click here for this call’s credentials.
  • Wednesday, June 10th, 12:00 – 1:00 PM. The Reopening Process for the RI Arts and Culture Community Facilitated by Randall Rosenbaum, RISCA, and Stephanie Fortunato, City of Providence Dept. of Art, Culture + Tourism (ACT); with special guest Ben Mays, Policy Advisor at the RI Executive Office of Commerce. Note: this call has different call-in credentials. Click here for call-in credentials and more details on the Reopening RI for the Arts calls.
  • *NEW TIME* Thursday, June 11th, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM. Preparing for The ‘New Better’: Dismantling How Philanthropy is Done. Facilitated by Todd Trebour, with Nancy Wolanski from Grantmakers’ Council of Rhode Island. What do we need to survive and thrive together? How do we change the capitalist value of philanthropy while we engage with it? What infrastructure and resources would be required? What changes in values, mindset, and policy would need to be in place?
  • Thursday, July 9th, 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Preparing for The ‘New Better’: Redefining the Value of Arts and Culture. Facilitated by Todd Trebour, co-facilitator TBD.  Many of us feel we are always arguing for the value of arts and culture on someone else’s terms and/or in someone else’s language. What are narratives you feel pigeon-holed into when you talk about why arts and culture are important? And what are other narratives we need to amplify? And who needs to hear them and how? This call might have some suggested light “pre-reading” – stay tuned!

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