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Some Utah arts venues are requiring proof of vaccination to enter

Posted at 3:55 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-22 17:22:53-04

SALT LAKE CITY — If you want to see Salt Lake Acting Company's new summer show, you'd better bring your vax card.

READ: Counting Crows, Florida Georgia Line cancel Salt Lake City concerts over COVID

The theatre company, known for its productions of local works and its annual summer cabarets, is requiring proof of vaccination and masks to see its latest production, #SLACaberet.

"We’re also part of the Actor’s Equity Union and they have some strict protocols. We’re going a little bit above and beyond," said Cynthia Fleming, the artistic director at SLAC. "It’s just to keep everybody safe."

#SLACabaret is the first in-person show for SLAC since the pandemic hit. Overall, Fleming said, the response to the vaccine requirement has been positive.

"The patrons come in and say 'Thank you. Thank you for doing this. The decisions that you’ve made throughout the past 18 months,'" she told FOX 13. "They are grateful. There have been just a few that are upset by it."

Salt Lake Acting Company is not alone. Earlier this week, The State Room and The Commonwealth Room announced they would start requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of any concert at their venues.

"A digital or physical version of your vaccination card or dated negative test will be accepted at the door along with your ID," an email to ticket buyers said. "Don’t want to get vaccinated or take a test? We wish you would reconsider, but we will refund your tickets as needed."

Crystal Young, the executive director of the Utah Cultural Alliance, said people are returning to concerts, plays and other cultural events.

"People are coming back and they’re coming back big time," she said in an interview with FOX 13.

But her group, which advocates for arts and cultural organizations, said a survey they conducted in March showed overwhelmingly that patrons do not want to be asked to show proof of vaccination status at the door.

"It was like 80% would not come if they were asked to show proof of vaccine," Young said.

Still, Young said you can expect venues to impose COVID restrictions as they reopen to keep artists, patrons and staffers safe.

"We will for sure see the return of mask requirements," she said. "Not from government, but from businesses for indoor venues following CDC guidelines. People are pretty comfortable about that, but also realistic they can’t necessarily turn you away."

Some government-owned arts venues are prohibited from mandating proof of vaccination or masking, but there are ways around that. For example, touring Broadway shows that stop at the Salt Lake County-owned Eccles Theater might still require things like proof of vaccination because of actors' union rules.

"Because of how the state statute has been written on what counties can and cannot enforce in terms of the COVID pandemic, the county itself cannot set those guidelines," Young said. "But the county can allow its presenters, its renters in those facilities to set their own policies."

Next month's Park City Song Summit is also requiring proof of vaccination to enter the festival. The Beethoven Festival, also in Park City, is requiring vaccine proof but is also posting online recordings.

SLAC is also offering a streaming option for #SLACabaret for those that would prefer to not come into the theatre (this year, because of health restrictions, the company had to do away with cabaret tables where patrons could bring a picnic lunch and eat while watching the show).

"It’s just been such a beautiful feeling for the artists and the audiences to be back," Fleming said. "The audience is saying, 'I thank you, it’s so great to be back.' And I think they’re rooting for us to not have to close again, so let’s just keep our fingers crossed."