Ready to Reopen?

Taking the Region’s Pulse
Inside the Arts | June & July 2020

Intent: To better understand how our engagement in arts and culture is influenced by reopening, or entering the “green phase”, during a pandemic.

Details: On June 26, after months of following stay-at-home orders, the Lehigh Valley opened back up with new safety precautions required. While digital experiences persist, physical experiences are being rescheduled by many arts and culture producers.

On Wednesday, July 1, 2020 we asked 3 questions to readers of Inside the Arts.

Takeaways: 107 responses were captured. 32% believe that they will attend in-person events over the coming months since our region moved into the Green Phase. 38% of respondents prefer waiting to return to public activities until there is a COVID-19 vaccine available. Our final question received a variety of responses, which we generalized across two categories, optimistic and doubtful, and then broke down further into six more specific groups; (1) considering outdoor events, or events with safety measures, (2) hopeful for positive change, (3) encouraging but cautious, (4) not expecting much difference, (5) difficult to consider engagement due to age/health concerns, (6) minimal difference, continuing remote engagement. 


Question 1: In the next two months, how likely is it that you attend public arts events at venues implementing the necessary safety measures?

Question 2: When will you be willing to return to public arts and culture events?

Question 3: How does reopening, or entering the Green Phase, impact your expectations to engage in the arts?

Visual representation of responses

All responses


Considering outdoor events, or events with safety measures
I will engage in outdoor events
Currently, just outdoor opportunities with mask requirements and other safety measures (screening, sanitizer stations) would be of interest.
I think galleries and art museums should be open with face coverings and distancing required. – Susan Smerker
I might attend an outdoor performance if attendance were strictly controlled. Otherwise, not.- Michael Korenich
It depends on the precautions put into place by the venue.
I would consider some outdoor activities with social distancing if every person wore a mask. Since I don’t think all people are responsible, I don’t think I would attend.
It still does not enable me to attend anything indoors. I would not attend theatre or concerts unless performances were outside. Even then….the audience would have to be spaced apart. COVID 19 has destroyed my business as I run my own theatre company – full time. (Educational, interactive theatre!!) Until Americans get a grip on mask wearing and following guidelines, the arts will suffer terribly. I believe this will plague us well into 2021. – Kitty Jones
Outside only and If I can social distance. If I see no mask wearing I won’t go :(.
it depends on the conditions safety etc
I think galleries and art museums should be open with face coverings and distancing required.
If it is a small, outdoor event, with masks.. I mean like 20-30 people and plenty of outdoor space to socially distance. – Danielle Notaro
It offers a chance to perform in a small group to a small amount of audience. – Norman E Stull
Outside events, possibly with crowd control. Inside no.
indoor events are pretty much out. open to things outdoors, esp. if space is available to stay 6 ft. from other folks. – Dodd Lamberton
I will wait until it is proven safe to exhibit, though PA May put limitations as to how many people can view the exhibit at a given moment.
Hopeful for positive change
Gives me hope – Sarah Carlson
It raises the likelihood that I’d engage in the arts.
We have started activities. Ready to expand. – Joshua Arthur Fink
I am eager to start with the green phase. – Debora
I hope to be able to do more.
Encouraging but still not sure
We are moving toward offering programs for small, safe gatherings. We have begun music and dance rehearsals in anticipation of upcoming concerts and shows. – Paula Holoviak
I think reopening is just the first step to this all. Obviously we have seen spikes in cases so reopening is a double edged sword. The arts, however, can be a great way to boost our spirits and allow us to forget this reality for a short while. Engaging in those activities is very important to our mental and physical well-being.
If the limitations are fully respected, then engagement is possible.
Encouraging but cautious
I would be very cautious
Super conservative. No trust in government or politicians. Will be very cautious about the “green phase” – Jeff Gilbert
I’m being cautious, I will be going out as little as possible.
i would love to support the art activities as I am an artist– but I am going to go on the cautious side – Cindy Hornaman
I’m very cautious
Waiting for numbers to decline
Virtual is still the way to go
I am very leery. I am surprised at the lack of masks and social distancing. We haven’t experienced the brunt of Covid19.
I am very hesitant to enter any building regardless of safety precautions at this time. Especially with so many who do not feel that masks are a necessary precaution.
I have been engaging in the arts during the entire pandemic, just in a different form than previously (more visual arts rather than group performance). I am very much looking forward to engaging in group arts activities again, I am not optimistic that we will be safely able to do so anytime soon.
Depends how the Arts respond. So far I have seen little change from yellow to green. A few more places have opened up, but there is little continuity and some members of the public do not conform to guidelines. – Marna
I’d visit a gallery, but not a gallery opening. That’s probably the extent of it.
Do not feel reassured about in-person experiences
I will re enter a month or two after others
I do not feel comfortable in public settings as I have observed lack of mask wearing and social distancing. – Karen Yeakel
Too many knuckleheads. Hopefully I can get through a semester teaching without incident @ Desales PA.
Very little at this time. When numbers start to decline significantly I may reconsider.
It doesn’t change until we have a vaccine or the virus has diminished
I’m looking more at the (local and regional) new case numbers and trends than the phase colors. It seems too early yet and I applaud the venues that are electing to delay reopening another, say, 6 months, as hard as it is financially to do so. Health of the staff, performers, and patrons must come first. Unfortunately, the general public in one room / ventilation system and close proximity is a big risk. When the numbers are at and remain extremely low with new cases, effectively near local eradication and low (enough risk), even if no vaccine yet, then I might start to return to theatres as patron and volunteer. The latter may take longer. Don’t know yet. There wasn’t an answer in #2 which quite fit, so wanted to clarify as this could be 6 mos to a year from now (if the numbers are stellar) or the opposite if a resurgence happens or they don’t continue dropping, or after a vaccine (when there is confidence in it…).
Green Phase means proceed with caution. I am concerned about the “knuckleheads” not wearing masks, so I will not be out in crowds just yet. – Emilie Heesen
as a professional musician, I don’t see much anymore this year………………maybe next spring
Not very much: I remain skeptical about sitting in enclosed spaces with others over an extended period of time.
Little. I am not convinced the risk has passed. Our non-profit does not intend on opening given building size, ventilation requirements and funding for prevention/cleaning efforts. – J. Gloria
I cannot see myself participating in any theater or mass audience arts presentations unless there is 1 – a vaccine to prevent my catching Covid-19, or 2 – a guarantee that the venue is completely safe (masks, sanitation, limited numbers of people). – Arnie Lichten
Still leery of gathering because too many people refuse to follow precautions.
Makes me more concerned about others’ risky behavior. Have not seen great evidence folks are being safe.


Not expecting much difference
Not at all. I do not plan to engage in going into any venue or outdoor group anything.
It really doesn’t change anything
Does not.
Still do not want to be in crowds, especially indoors.
Green phase is meaningless due to idiots who do not understand the vital need for continuing and improved infection control/prevention measures. Short of holding an event in a class10 vertical laminar flow clean room there is no such thing as a venue that is safe for all folks involved. Translation: until there is a proven effective vaccine, performance based arts are in deep trouble and the performers need to think seriously about career change.
My expectations depend on a vaccine.
Still not ready to return to events that would include a lot of people.
I will not be entering a closed space with a group of people until a vaccine is in full circulation in society.
no impact
Meaningless label
No different than the red or green phase.
It doesn’t make me feel hopeful. There are way too many people who don’t believe this is a legitimate situation we are in and not taking it seriously. I’m not willing to put my health and my families health at risk. – T
No change from yellow phase.
it doesn’t. – Kathy
Not at all. – Nelvin Vos
I am not willing to be in any large event.
I’m not sure I would trust the public as a whole to follow safety guidelines. Some folks just don’t get it and they seem not to care about others. – Brenda
Difficult to consider engagement due to age/health concerns
I will follow science. I am 69 and will remain cautious.
It’s only a limited first step. I must go carefully due to health issues that cannot be compromised. I hope others will support me faster and more fully. – Sydney Davis
I remain cautiously ambivalent. Expect to turn 70 in a month. Am also a performer, and would like to be able to return to that soon, but while feeling safe rather than risky about it.
I miss their arts, cultural events & my social life but I’m 65, diabetic & live alone. I need to be very careful. I will be tempted to attend (whenever arts events start up, but will err on the side of caution.
We are 82 & 85 y old, like Godiva chocolates to the Coronavirus, so While we love and support and enjoy the arts visual, aural, & performance, We also hope to hang around for a bit more time so I am playing this very conservatively. – Harold J. Goldfarb, M.D.
I have a couple autoimmune diseases so I’m considered very high risk so it will be a slow reentry for me but I so miss live music so as soon as I can I will. – Lori Vybihal
I am very cautious and concerned about my and others’ safety and health. – Allison Mackenzie
As long as the organization implements safety measures and enforces mask wearing, I’m there. I am immunocompromised but also a working artist and married to someone in the event industry. The arts will heal and we need them to manage our mental health through all this mess. And we need to support it. We need to show it should be the LAST thing cut from budgets not the first.
No impact. I’m high risk, so I plan to stay home.
Having an immunodeficiency means I need to be very careful in all crowds.
Minimal difference, continuing remote engagement
I expect to engage mostly via live media like Zoom, Facebook Live, YouTube, etc. – Norm Williams
Will support from a far
For the arts council to be more engaging with adding roles & positions for working artists on the council. – Femi J Johnson
I try to take in as much as I can online. – Jason Reed
Virtually. At home creativity. Online shows/ galleries
I am busy in my studio, marketing my work online and with galleries that have opened with caution. I participate in online arts communities and have taken a number of Zoom arts classes
I have canceled two shows due to tight contact. I am doing one show virtually and filming a studio visit video. – Jan Crooker
I will attempt to show my works created over the last 70 years.
This is one of my newest paintings, I’m a local artist living in Stroudsburg, PA for around 18yrs. This painting reflects living in quarantine in darkness, looking through a window casing light from the shades. It speaks on seeing the world in a new light and adjusting to the new. I wish to submit this work to you as an artist relating to this pandemic but as my art may relate to others. – Thomas Dillon Artist
Baby steps-going to small events and finding ways to engage with the arts online.
Sadly, the “green” phase means nothing because of the behavior of many people. I will continue to watch plays and music artists through online streaming