The League of American Orchestras released a report which summarizes the findings of its Health and Safety Policies and Planning Survey for 2021. The survey's respondents included 202 different orchestras from its pool of approximately 700 member organizations.
The purpose of the report was to showcase the policies of a wide range of different groups (and budgets) — including youth orchestras and smaller-scale regional orchestras alongside the major orchestras. The findings indicate that COVID-19 safety policies vary more widely than one might think across different demographics, and in different parts of the country.
One of the main findings of the report was that attitudes to vaccination were quite different for full-time staff, both players and administrators, than they were for audiences.
82% of orchestras (excluding youth groups) will require their players to be fully vaccinated. However, only 26% of respondents indicated that vaccination would be mandatory for concertgoers. In total, only 41% of respondents (including youth orchestras) reported that they would have either mandatory vaccination or a testing requirement for audiences.
However, 71% of orchestras will require audience members to wear masks, but only 14% indicated that social distancing would be made available to concertgoers at all venues. For obvious reasons, outdoor performances offering high levels of ventilation are not on the radar for many orchestras; only 6% of respondents reported programming outdoor concerts as a safety measure.
The findings of the report remind us that while prominent, metropolitan orchestras can afford to be stringent in their COVID-19 safety policies, many smaller orchestras cannot. Additionally, the large range of different laws across different states means that American orchestras and their audiences cannot expect a homogeneous approach to concertgoer safety.
You can read the full report here.