Support for a Safe Re-Opening of Canadian Performing Arts Sector

Engaging with audiences

Maintaining ongoing dialogue with audiences, artists and employees is an essential part of the successful re-opening of performing arts venues. Although each venue will develop their own external and internal communications strategy to address their particular situation and context, below is a checklist of potential communication elements to consider when engaging with audiences around re-opening.

Before the visit

Preparing audiences to come back to your venue.

  • Share all information relevant to re-opening widely with audiences and the public on your website and social media channels.
  • Establish regular communication channels through which you provide information and updates to audiences and the public and maintain communications consistency on those channels.
  • Align health and safety language around re-opening with vocabulary used by local health authorities for maximum clarity.
  • Regularly update website with new information on the organization’s response status and send out regular emails to the distribution list with updated information.
  • Develop an expected code of conduct for audiences during the pandemic. Consider making review and agreement of compliance with code of conduct a condition of ticket sales for performances. Communicate protocols in place for addressing non-compliance issues.
  • Communicate clearly about changes to procedures at the venue during the pandemic response period. For example:
    • Health screening protocols, including self-screening before each visit and any onsite screening
    • Heightened cleaning procedures and information about cleaning agents used
  • Communicate clearly about changes to access and services at the venue during the pandemic response period. For example:
    • Limited access to entrances, washrooms, parking or public spaces at the venue
    • Changes to opening hours, egress and ingress
    • Changes to food & beverage service (limited, cashless), coat check, on-site community programming or workshops, lost & found service, rental equipment or listening devices, valet parking, etc.
  • Communicate clearly about changes to policy at the venue during the pandemic response period. For example:
    • Policy with regard to privacy and use of personal health information (in case of contact tracing and duty to report to local public health authorities) during a pandemic
    • Changes to cancellation policy

During the visit 

Communicating with audiences on site.

  • Provide a visitor orientation area at key entrance points and identify where people can go when onsite to obtain information or report a health incident.
  • Post self-screening health information in accordance with local public health authority guidelines on entrance doors.
  • Post clear wayfinding information if regular access points have been modified.
  • Communicate health and safety protocols and messaging in a variety of accessible formats as possible to reach the widest audience and reduce or eliminate barriers to understanding. (Posters and signage, verbal reminders by ushers and floor staff, announcements before and following performances, video recordings with closed captioning messages in key areas, etc.)
  • If possible, deploy clearly identified visitor staff to greet audiences, remind them of self-screening measures in place and expectations for audience conduct (for example, necessity to maintain physical distance, covering coughs and sneezes in elbow, use of masks as required, etc.)
  • Make use of existing screens and electronic signage for health and safety messages as much as possible to avoid having to update paper signage or posters.
  • Post signage or video of major steps the venue is talking to ensure audience safety and comfort.
  • Integrate announcements in the performance schedule, communicating reminders and announcements before and following performances and during intermission as applicable.

After the visit

Following up with audiences after a performance.

  • Develop a strategy to follow up with audiences regarding their experience following a performance.
  • Remind them to disclose any illness to the venue should they become ill in the days following their visit. Outline public health authority best practices for contact tracing being followed by venue and/or duty to disclose health incidents at venue.