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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: 357526

Reported Deaths: 4284
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah55810707
Washington38782324
Marion36837455
Clackamas29779309
Lane27744302
Jackson23059310
Deschutes20336125
Umatilla14492150
Linn12911131
Douglas12118243
Josephine9384196
Yamhill8715113
Klamath8020119
Polk737381
Malheur563677
Benton549431
Coos503794
Columbia382644
Jefferson376052
Lincoln319939
Union319549
Crook291846
Wasco288841
Clatsop244328
Baker203529
Tillamook196932
Hood River192837
Morrow185023
Curry180625
Harney113927
Grant100013
Lake93912
Wallowa68612
Gilliam1544
Sherman1523
Wheeler1121
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4850807

Reported Deaths: 71341
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles148419226540
Riverside3716705041
San Diego3673614183
San Bernardino3586775692
Orange3242885562
Sacramento1596362309
Kern1463481648
Fresno1463182094
Santa Clara1455431897
Alameda1206921400
San Joaquin1027761721
Ventura1010381167
Contra Costa1000181008
Stanislaus862991335
Tulare80375978
San Francisco54440649
San Mateo54168623
Monterey50911586
Solano46063341
Santa Barbara45223523
Merced42422581
Sonoma40997404
Placer39435429
Imperial36071766
Kings32938325
San Luis Obispo29973333
Madera23955285
Shasta23924352
Butte23818273
Santa Cruz21034221
Yolo20397248
Marin17706244
El Dorado17207149
Sutter13937175
Napa12898100
Yuba1011582
Tehama9534110
Humboldt9269109
Nevada916790
Mendocino766787
Lassen754347
San Benito744972
Tuolumne691790
Lake6631105
Amador547364
Siskiyou451246
Glenn438433
Calaveras391481
Del Norte358742
Colusa307618
Inyo214241
Mono16723
Plumas16607
Mariposa133916
Trinity88011
Modoc6895
Sierra1880
Unassigned1460
Alpine1050
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