By Kevin Collison
Downtown’s cultural crown jewel, the Kauffman Center, will require patrons to show proof of vaccination for Covid-19 beginning Sept. 6, joining other venues requiring immunization since the pandemic resurged several weeks ago.
“We feel that this measure, hopefully a temporary one, will allow us to welcome audiences safely back into the Kauffman Center,” Kauffman Center President and CEO Paul Schofer said in a statement.
“It’s clear that all of us in the community need to work together to successfully combat this virus and end the pandemic. We hope that our guests will be comforted by our joint efforts to keep our patrons safe.”
The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts decision to require Covid vaccinations includes public performances of the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony, Lyric Opera of Kansas City, and Harriman-Jewell Series.
It’s not alone among key downtown venues.
Earlier this month, AEG Live, the operator of the Arvest Bank Theatre at Midland issued a release stating it would begin requiring vaccinations for patrons beginning Oct. 1.
AEG however, will allow persons inside the Midland with proof they’ve had a negative Covid test within 72 hours of the show date.
The Folly Theater also will be requiring patrons to show proof of vaccinations, although it will allow people who demonstrate they’ve had a negative Covid test within 48 hours of a performance to attend.
“None of us want to impose restrictions on the public,” said Gale Tallis, Folly executive director.
“We want to get back to live performances like usual and we’re excited about our jazz series beginning this September.”
The T-Mobile Center does not plan to require proof of a Covid vaccination for patrons, but is following all the city guidelines for wearing a mask indoors, said Shani Tate, spokeswoman for the facility.
“T-Mobile Center requires compliance with the mask order for guests over 5 years old, unless actively eating or drinking while in their seats,” she said.
Tate added that performers and events may require vaccinations on an individual basis so venue protocols are subject to change and may vary.
As for city-owned venues, Bartle Hall, Music Hall and Municipal Auditorium, city spokeswoman Maggie Green said the decision to require proof of vaccination is left up to the organizers of individual events.
The Truman, another downtown entertainment venue, could not be reached for comment
The new Kauffman Center policy also will require people to wear masks to performances even if they’re vaccinated except while eating or drinking in designated locations.
The new policy could be particularly challenging for the KC Ballet, which attracts large numbers of families with young children to its annual performance of The Nutcracker. At this point, the CDC has not authorized Covid vaccinations for children under 12.
“We continue to evaluate the ever-changing circumstances in hope that children under 12 years of age can safely attend public performances in time for the holiday season,” Schofer said in his statement.
For a complete schedule of the performances impacted by the new COVID-19 protocols at the Kauffman Center click here.
One major entertainment event looming on the horizon, the Kansas City Irish Fest planned for Labor Day Weekend, has the benefit of being outdoors at Crown Center for its tens of thousands of attendees and is not subject to the city mask mandate.
“At this time, we are not requiring face coverings or proof of vaccination in order to attend the festival, said Keli O’Neill Wenzel, chief organizer of the event.
“Face coverings are certainly welcomed and recommended for those not vaccinated where six-foot social distancing cannot be maintained. We have eliminated all of our indoor areas of the festival, so everything will remain outside.”
Wenzel added that since children are a big part of Irish Fest, extra precautions are being made to reduce the risk of infection.
“The 2021 children’s Area will look very different from previous years.,” she said.
“We had to get creative and find ways to provide activities but also keep things spread out for social distancing and provide more self-guided and engaged options.”
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