Enters Stage Right, Wearing Mask

There have been a lot of stories about shows re-opening on Broadway and how important that is to the economy of NYC. While I haven’t read everything single article, one that appeared on Bloomberg yesterday is among the most complete in terms of imagery and coverage of a variety of different arts disciplines.

The article discusses the hopes of Broadway shows like Six, which went from thunderous applause at its final preview performance on March 11, 2020…to nothing when Broadway closed down on March 12. It also takes a look at dance companies and dance performance venues, the Metropolitan Opera and NY Philharmonic and speaks to restaurant owners whose livelihood is nearly inextricably linked to attendance of Broadway shows.

The large number of images are an important companion to the article because every picture of artists rehearsing or performing–including those painting in parks–show them wearing masks. All the hopes and dreams for mounting a production are entwined with those pieces of fabric and people’s willingness to wear them and get vaccinated.

And so, even as costumes are sewn, lines are rehearsed, sets are built, and playbills are printed, organizers are acutely aware that, even in a best-case scenario, audience numbers are a long way from their 2019 levels. “It may be that people don’t show up for a while, and they come back when they feel safe,” says Deborah Borda, president and chief executive officer of the New York Philharmonic, who says the first weekend of the orchestra’s season has already sold out. “But increasingly, yes, everyone has anxiety, but people are feeling like ‘Good lord, we have to find some pathway to normalization.’”

That pathway, Borda is convinced, runs straight through live performance. “I like to think that music is a fundamental human right, like good health, clean air, fresh water,” she says. “It’s that important to human beings, and I believe that. And that’s what we try to deliver.”

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker (artshacker.com) website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (http://www.creatingconnection.org/about/)

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


Leave a Comment