Athens Area Council for the Arts celebrates the power of the arts. That power comes in many forms and, for the last fourteen months, we’ve focused that power on the responsibility to do our part to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of our community.

Our Board of Directors and staff have prioritized public health and innovated creative ways to continue to provide access to the arts during the COVID-19 pandemic. We appreciate your support during this time as many individuals, businesses, non-profits, and especially the arts industry have faced significant losses. We’ve made it through this season thanks to your support!

AACA has been closely monitoring active cases and rate of infection while leaning on the expertise of a committee of health professionals to ensure our operating and programming decisions are not only upholding our mission, but also keeping our community safe. We do not take these decisions lightly as we know the lives and livelihood of the vulnerable among us, including artists, are impacted by our choices.

As of July 29, 2021 there are 129 active cases in McMinn County compared to 4 on July 4. As of the same date 29% of our population is fully vaccinated. Noting this alarming rate of infection, we are amending our mask and COVID-19 policies in an attempt to keep live indoor programming possible.

The following brief reviews important changes to Athens Area Council for the Arts’ COVID-19 policy per rapid case counts as well as changes to CDC guidelines.

Effective immediately masks are required for indoor AACA events, regardless of vaccination status.

Additionally, the following policies will apply to auditions, rehearsals, and performances until further notice. These policies are intended to make productions possible:

Auditions

  • Masks are required to audition, regardless of vaccination status (mask may be removed when singing)
  • Waiting space is limited and only the person auditioning may remain in The Arts Center during auditions
  • Audition groups will be limited to 10 to ensure appropriate distancing in the theatre
  • Names and contact information of all present will be collected for contact tracing purposes

Rehearsals

  • Anyone who accepts a role must communicate vaccination status to AACA administration in order to determine quarantine protocols moving forward.
  • AACA will NOT ask vaccination status until AFTER the show is cast and vaccination status has no bearing on whether or not an individual is offered a part
  • AACA staff (not the show directors) will collect vaccination status data only to make an informed decision on the level of precaution necessary to protect the cast, production, and organization
  • Procedures for quarantines, contact tracing will be announced at first rehearsal
  • Masks will be required during rehearsals regardless of vaccination status
  • Anyone cast in a production will be asked to agree to a pledge of protection, which means the individual agrees to prioritize health & safety of themself and their castmates. A copy of this pledge will be available at auditions
  • Anyone cast in a production will be encouraged to mask in public and get a vaccination – as data shows us vaccination is the only proven means to slow the spread of infection
  • A COVID-19 contraction could potentially shut down any production. Participants will be expected to take that seriously and do their part to stay healthy
  • Mask policy may be lifted if local rate of inflection slows drastically, or if CDC amends recommendations

Performances

  • Presently masks will be required for audience members at all performances in accordance with current CDC guidelines
  • AACA staff, board, and COVID-19 committee are monitoring local data and national guidelines and are balancing commitment to producing shows with a commitment to public safety

Volunteer directors, stage managers, choreographers, and producers do not make decisions regarding COVID-19 policy. Any questions regarding these policies should be directed to AACA Executive Director Lauren Brown at 423-745-8781 or director@athensartscouncil.org.

We are grateful for your support and especially that of our COVID-19 committee, which has helped us determine a balanced approach to resume programming and respect the varying comfort levels of our community members.

We are proud that The Arts Center is a safe space for all and are firm in our commitment to maintain that status.

Updated July 2021