Guides For Reopening Planning

Last week I had a post on Arts Hacker featuring the Event Safety Alliance’s (ESA)  Reopening Guide for live event venues. You may have already seen the guide being passed around by a lot of people. Given the times, I feel like distribution hasn’t reached the point of over-saturation. When I start seeing it more frequently than ads for the presidential campaign, I’ll know it is time to stop.

In my Arts Hacker post, I focused on the idea of legal duty of care. I had been on a webinar with Steven Adleman, a lawyer who serves as Vice President of ESA, and he addressed the concerns many people had regarding their liability if people were exposed to Covid-19 while at their event.

In addressing that, he said firstly, that if someone is social enough to attend a live event, they probably interacted with others so much that it would be difficult to prove your event was the source of their illness.

None of which excuses you from sanitizing the hell out of everything in sight and implementing diligent operating practices.

Which bring us to the ESA Reopening Guide’s statement about a duty of care. I suspect Adleman wrote it because much the same content appeared in the webinar he conducted. I quoted it in my ArtsHacker post, but feel it is significant enough to repeat here:

“As a matter of common law, everyone has a duty to behave reasonably under their own circumstances.  Consequently, there is no such thing as ‘best’ practices.  There are only practices that are reasonable for this venue, this event, this crowd, this time and place, during this pandemic.  Because few operational bright lines would make sense, The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide is designed to help event professionals think through their own circumstances.  In the order than one plans an event, the Reopening Guide looks closely at the health and safety risks involved in reopening public spaces, then proposes risk mitigation measures that are likely to be reasonable under the circumstances of the smaller events and venues that will reopen first.”

Even though it just appeared last week, I wrote and submitted my Arts Hacker post around May 15. In the interim, the Performing Arts Center Consortium (PACC) released their own reopening guide. It is a little nicer than the ESA guide, especially in regard to the color coded charts outlining what should be done in different phases of reopening.

I am not going to even pretend to hide my annoyance at the existence of these two guidebooks released around the same time.

It would really have been great if the ESA and PACC guides had been combined. Lest you think they were separate efforts developed independently of each other, the PACC board of advisors is listed as contributors to the ESA guide, together, in the exact same order as they appear in the PACC guide. There is no excuse that they were unaware of the separate efforts.

In the past, I would just shrug at similar duplicative efforts by competing groups. But during these times when half the day is spent trying to figure out how our organizations and/or individual practices might manifest in the next normals and the other half of the day is spent trying to understand how to keep employees/co-workers/family/friends safe in the face of uncertainty about the threat the virus poses, the need to be aware of and expend effort to track down two sources of advice contributes to the problem, not the solution.



Meeting Your Legal Duty Of Care In Post-Covid Reopening

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 ( 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. (

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.


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