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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: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5107717

Reported Deaths: 74800
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153472027244
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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