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Britt and OSF urge Governor Brown to develop live venue reopening plan

Live events have been hammered hardest and longest by COVID-19 shutdowns. Now a group of Oregon organizations are urging Governor Brown to heed their concerns regarding a return to some form of normalcy.

Posted: Apr 5, 2021 1:30 PM
Updated: Apr 5, 2021 1:35 PM

JACKSONVILLE, Ore. — When the first confirmed cases of coronavirus began to show up in Oregon, live events were among the first activities to be shut down by state officials. More than a year later, little has changed — and many organizations tied to this sector are expressing frustration from the apparent lack of responsiveness shown by Governor Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority.

The Britt Music & Arts Festival released a public statement on Monday, describing concerns from the industry that have gone largely unaddressed.

Britt was part of a coalition of venues, promoters, and other groups — including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival — that lobbied the Governor for a "sensible strategy" on reopening in a letter back in March. According to Britt, the coalition never received a response to the letter, but there was a webiner held on March 31 to address the topic. Governor Brown's liaison Leah Horner and state epidemiologist Dr. Dean Sidelinger led the session.

"Although originally led to believe the group would be invited to provide input into the reopening process, members were instead limited to submitting questions at the end of the OHA presentation — questions which were largely left unanswered," Britt said. "Additionally, the Governor’s team did not provide guidance to allow reopening of venues and events once specific benchmarks are met."

Britt said that the coalition letter was also not addressed during the March 31 meeting. Meeting attendees were told "that there was no strategy, and that the Governor would not be pursuing any input from the industry."

Representatives of the venue group brought up how different kinds of venues are treated with seeming incongruity in Oregon's risk level guidance. Even in "Lower Risk" counties, faith institutions can hold indoor gatherings at 75 percent capacity, while outdoor venues remain limited to 50 percent capacity.

"The live performance industry faces many reopening challenges that other businesses do not," Britt said. "First and foremost is the amount of time necessary to schedule, plan, and present performances. Venues require this lead time based on consistent benchmarks and regulations before they can offer live performances to awaiting audiences.

"Without them, venues cannot dependably schedule events, sell tickets, and hire staff. Many touring artists have already canceled their tours in Oregon due to this uncertainty. At this point, a single performance cancellation can potentially lead to financial collapse for many of our time-honored venues."

Britt and the other venue organizations assert that live events will be crucial to Oregon's economic recovery, bringing money into local economies above and beyond the price of admission — carrying over into business for the restaurant and hospitality sector.

"Furthermore, Oregon's event spaces act as a voice for who we are; our story is told on the stages, arenas, and theaters of the state," the venues wrote. "The decisions made today can bring Oregon back to a position of strength and sustainability for jobs, tourism, and its tax base. Alternatively, poor decisions will result in unmitigable damage to an industry that is already poised on the edge of economic collapse."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 173626

Reported Deaths: 2457
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34641566
Washington23309229
Marion20037299
Clackamas15216204
Lane11478144
Jackson9846127
Umatilla795383
Deschutes698772
Linn410763
Yamhill407074
Malheur342558
Polk341752
Klamath340859
Josephine304262
Douglas302765
Benton272518
Jefferson205932
Coos196631
Columbia153326
Union141124
Lincoln129720
Wasco128628
Hood River112429
Morrow107815
Clatsop8838
Crook86819
Baker85114
Curry5919
Tillamook5763
Lake4137
Grant4044
Harney3046
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam551
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3714587

Reported Deaths: 60922
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122811823601
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2944644544
San Diego2745663662
Orange2687624886
Santa Clara1167722013
Kern1077641317
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1004311642
Alameda850891475
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66839781
Stanislaus603061028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43260352
San Mateo41050560
San Francisco35947517
Santa Barbara33830446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29632311
Imperial27920718
Kings22755245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16234239
Santa Cruz15554203
Marin13851226
Yolo13547199
Shasta11677217
Butte11529196
El Dorado9688109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito596963
Lassen566624
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador361646
Humboldt358737
Lake339943
Glenn235425
Colusa219216
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4197
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
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