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Editor’s Note June 2021: A Long Tail

Michael S. Eddy • Editor's NoteJune 2021 • May 25, 2021

This story can be read by clicking the image above, or reading below, or in our June 2021 digitial edition

With summer just around the corner, there is much to be optimistic about, theaters regionally are planning for audiences to attend summer seasons and Broadway shows have begun to announce Fall reopening dates. Finally, the light at the end of this, over a year long, tunnel is a spotlight. While it’s a time to be optimistic, we might want to hold off on the celebrations. The vaccine rollout is proceeding apace, but the pandemic is not over. 

We need to make sure that theaters reopen safely for everyone—including crews, house staff, and employees—as well as performers and audience members. To that end, many theaters are hiring COVID compliance and health & safety managers, a new and vital role to theater teams. In this issue we speak with Mike VanAartsen, the newly appointed COVID Compliance & Safety Manager for the Santa Fe Opera about this role. He offers much to consider and an interesting point about how safety also takes into consideration equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Even when shows reopen safely it’s not going to all be back to business as usual. We also have to acknowledge that reopening announcements are not the same as being back to work and even then many of our colleagues will still be under-employed. Companies, manufacturers, shops, theater makers, in fact a large portion of our industry, have over a year of debt from costs and overhead, rent and bills, which have been incurred with little to no income during the pandemic. Debt that, whether corporate or personal, is going to take a long while to pay down, even once all have returned to work and are again getting a paycheck. 

In this issue we have a synopsis of the results from The Actors Fund’s recently completed survey of 7,163 people they helped through February 28, 2021. Since the pandemic began, The Fund has helped more than 40,000 entertainment professionals—a 71% increase from 2019—representing 126 different occupations in the performing arts and entertainment. We also speak with John Kristiansen and his partner, Brian Blythe of John Kristiansen New York (JKNY) about the ongoing efforts of the Costume Industry Coalition (CIC). With over 56 independent costume creation and supply businesses and artisans as members, the CIC knows that reopening is only the beginning of the long road back. 

The Actors Fund’s COO Barbara Davis perhaps states it best, “Clearly, we were able to help lessen the impact of the pandemic, but the pandemic has a long tail. Now, we need to continue to provide direct financial assistance, we must help more people access health insurance and receive health care, and provide mental health and other support services as the entertainment industry gradually returns.” She makes an excellent point. That long tail of the pandemic will need to be dealt with by many in our industry for some time to come. We all need to acknowledge the economic, emotional, and physical issues that remain. As an entire community of theater makers we will need to continue to work together to help turn off the ghost lights and raise the curtains on all aspects of our industry. 


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