June 25, 2020
Staging our Reopening
At the Wright Opera House we are determined to always be in compliance with all state, county and city laws, licenses, permits, orders and guidelines for all aspects of our performing arts venue. When the governor first mandated the closing of all performing arts venues in March, we were already making changes for this move in anticipation of those orders. We have been dark since March 12.
During this time we have been feverishly at work on multiple fronts. One area is in Development and Fundraising. The Wright was on the upswing of programming when this pandemic hit. We have had to pivot drastically as a non-profit entity in figuring out how to finance this venture to make sure it doesn't “fall down mid-flight.” With the excellent leadership of our Board of Directors, we have been able to remain on our upward trajectory. This, however, includes opening our doors as soon as we have been given the "green light" from the governor and from Ouray County Unified Command. We invited Tanner Kingery on a private tour a few weeks back so he could be well-informed of the steps we have been, are and continue to take. We were given permission to open last week by Governor Polis and on Tuesday, June 23 by Tanner Kingery.
Another area where we have been hard at work is in our Programming. Again, we realize a drastic shift was needed and have been making several of those programming changes. Our offerings have included an online art show called Art in Isolation, the launch of a weekly radio show, The Shadow, and also the launch of a weekly talk show that interviews local business owners and artisans called Wright Conversations @ Table 10. We have also cleared out our back lot and are going to have a Market/Faire for local artisans to sell their wares on Saturday mornings beginning on July 4 through Oct 3.
We are taking multiple steps in slowly re-integrating indoor programming in order to keep the safety, health and well-being of our patrons at the forefront of our decision-making. We have cancelled all programming with live performers until late July at the earliest. This means there won't be performers facing the audience with the potential of spreading the virus through singing or speaking. This decision was particularly difficult as it included cancelling our vastly popular annual melodrama. We are only screening movies right now because this limits the number of people in the building (we have capacity numbers for both House areas and Back Stage areas - this eliminates the Back Stage capacity number altogether). We have also drastically reduced the number of tickets available. Our regular maximum number of tickets for sale to an event is #160. We are only making #40 tickets available per indoor event at this time. Our seating arrangement has traditionally changed from event to event. We will now have only one seating arrangement for the foreseeable future, restaurant style tables and chairs. We have purchased resin folding chairs that are easily wiped down after an event and have placed them around tables in the Theatre House. This gives patrons a specific place to go without having to be in one anothers’ spaces. We encourage the pre-purchasing of tickets so that we can assign seating in advance, which also allows patrons to know exactly where they will be seated. We have installed 3 seperate, touchless hand sanitizer stations and posted signage about the building reminding patrons of social distancing and what that looks like in our venue. We have laid out a traffic-flow pattern that allows for social distancing and ease of movement about the building. There are other things we have done as well like a plexiglass at the Box Office and hands-free soap & faucet in the bathrooms that also aid in our attempt to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19. We have also hired two additional house cleaners. In addition to regular cleaning, they are scheduled to come before and after events in order to wipe down high touch areas - specifically the restrooms, the theatre tables & chairs and the doorways.
Being a non-profit means that we answer to a wide range of donors and Board Members. This vast group of people do not completely agree on what the Wright approach should be to this pandemic. What we have come up with is a compromise. Requesting instead of requiring masks is one such compromise. Our staff and volunteers will have masks on and have their temperatures taken on a regular basis. We simply and respectfully ask that everyone wear a mask while moving about the building.
We have been working on making our Back Lot a space where we can have events outdoors. Our first event will be July 4 from 9am-1pm, The Wright Summer Faire. This is a market where artisans can sell their wares and people can do some shopping outside. Our Tavern will be open during this time for locals and visitors alike to enjoy an appetizer & a drink.
I am hoping that as we all navigate these "uncharted waters," we can come together as a community and be supportive of one another.
The Wright Opera House is a 501c3 nonprofit, operating a historic venue and premier performing arts organization located in the City of Ouray. It is supported by event fees and by generous donations. Click here to make a tax deductible donation to the Wright.