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Performers, Theaters Await Texas Governor’s Guidance to Reopen

May 21,2020

See full NBCDFW article by Ben Russell here

In recent weeks, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued guidelines for the reopening of a wide variety of businesses during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including movie theaters, restaurants, bars, tattoo parlors, professional sporting events, and indoor rodeos.

But arts and entertainment venues, like theaters and concert spaces for live performances, still have no guidance from the government on when or how to officially begin operations again.

That has not officially stopped the show from going on.

Wade Bowen, a Texas-based country music performer, has put on a weekly ‘Quaranstream’ performance for his 375,000-plus Facebook fans, and has also played in front of live audiences in both a Dallas restaurant – where temperatures were taken for the few patrons allowed through the doors – and a West Texas drive-in movie theater.

Bowen told NBC DFW he is in support of the cautious approach the state government is taking toward resuming some version of normal amid the pandemic. But he stressed this has been an unsettling time, personally and professionally.

“It’s really hard for musicians to keep a positive attitude, because we don’t know when we are going to go back to normal,” Bowen said. “And I don’t think the bars to either, the venues, a lot of them. I don’t know how many of us are going to recover overall. Some of the artists might disappear. Some of the musicians might disappear. Some of the venues might disappear, and that’s a scary thought.”

At the Jubilee Theatre in Fort Worth’s Sundance Square, the pandemic has allowed the organization to retrofit its space to accommodate any potential requested changes.

Since late March, the Jubilee has place plexiglass partitions in between the public and the box office, as well as the concession stand in the lobby area. In the theater itself, which ordinarily seats 143 people, half of the seats have been blocked off in the effort to promote safe social distancing. Behind the scenes, the staff has added plexiglass partitions in between the sinks in the public restrooms, as well as in the actors’ dressing and makeup rooms.

Christie M. Howard, the Managing Director of the Jubilee Theatre, noted that it has been frustrating that the arts community has, to date, seemingly been overlooked in the government’s reopening plans.

“It’s the not knowing. If we could open tomorrow, next week, that’s great,” Howard said. “But if in your plan, if your idea of public safety if what’s best for us is for us to no open until late fall, then give us that heads up.”

The Jubilee Theatre is among many local venues that signed on to an open letter to Governor Abbott late last month, encouraging him to include their industry in the conversation.

Location Mentioned: Jubilee Theatre