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June Update: As We Enter Phase 3

As the Finger Lakes Region enters Phase 3 of the Governor’s Reopening Plan, The Smith makes plans for reopening in Phase 4. The question is when and how. COVID has drastically changed the way we gather and present film and the performing arts. The Smith team has many logistical challenges to consider before opening our doors. We want to be sure that whatever decisions we make now to reopen put the organization on good footing to stay open in the years to come.

Fortunately, The Smith is in regular contact, via webinars and Zoom calls, with colleagues running venues across the country. Organizations such as Americans for the Arts, Association of Performing Arts Professionals, CONSert, League of Historic American Theaters, and National Independent Venues Association have provided invaluable support, information, and camaraderie. Local partners such as Hobart and Williams Smith Colleges and Cornell’s AgriTech have generously provided useful time and advice.

A few of the challenges The Smith faces in moving forward:

Reduced Capacity. Social distancing rules require a loss of roughly 2/3s of the Opera House’s seats. This limits the types of events we can offer to the public and the experiences our audiences can have.

National Trends. Though anxious to reconnect with audiences, artists across the country are understandably reluctant to do so until it is safe. The Smith does not have its usual “pipeline” of tours that would see us saving performance dates over the next year.

Reduced Revenue. Reduced capacity means reduced revenue from ancillary services the Smith offers, most notably concessions sales. New protocols and expectations regarding the handling and delivering of food and beverages will reduce margins on concessions sales and add to equipment, staffing, training, and supply costs.

Increased Expenses. New protocols and expectations for cleaning will require new outlays of funds for equipment, supplies and staffing.

We love the The Smith’s charming lobby but the space presents major hurdles in the COVID Era in terms of patron ingress and egress, access to lobby rest rooms, staircases and the concessions bar. The Smith will need planning, signage, and extra staff on hand to direct patrons through the space in as efficient and safe a manner as possible.

The Smith will be deploying an audience survey the week of June 15th that measures our patron’s willingness to return to the opera house and engage in events. The results of this survey will provide crucial data and help us plan our reopening even further. We hope you’ll take this survey yourself and encourage others to do so.

We want to return to the Smith’s mission of helping audience’s engage with the arts in a historic venue in a way that is sustainable and responsible. We care deeply about the health of our community and ask for your support and patience while we do the work of planning for your return. To learn about The Smith’s many digital offerings, go here. To make a donation to The Smith, go here.