Sunday, June 7, 2020

What Now?

As if the pandemic were not bad enough, we have great civil unrest in this country, for legitimate reasons, and no centralized response.  Therefore, it has lasted far longer than need be.  At this writing, while the Rodney King riots lasted 6 days while we are into our 9th.  This is when we need the balm of the arts more than ever.

As has been discussed, every cultural organization is trying to maintain a presence with virtual applications, but we are dying for the real thing.  Our 800-seat Lensic Performing Arts Center is waiting for the Governor to allow the theater to reopen. As a board member, I know of their work on plans to make people feel safe opening with 25% capacity and spaced seating. Initial events will be smaller scale, avoiding performers crowding on a stage. By eliminating intermissions, they will also eliminate the long lines for the toilet.

The Lensic View from the Stage

On June 1 we received a notice that the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian would reopen June 3.  But it is for members only and the rules are strict.  You will have to book in advance and have a specific time slot.  Anyone, not wearing a mask will be given one or shown the door.  There will also be hand sanitizer that will be required.  The most onerous rule as far as I am concerned is that the bathrooms will be off-limits, so you better go before you come!  The rumor has been that the New Mexico State Museums will open on July 1, but those rules have not yet been announced.

Looking around the country, my daughter has a bookstore, Main Point Books, in Wayne, Pennsylvania a few miles from Philadelphia.  There the Governor has instituted a Red, Yellow, Green system.  They are entering their yellow phase which I gather is pretty much what is happening in many other places.  It is an in-between stage where curbside shopping is still preferred but people will be allowed into the bookstore by appointment requiring the use of Hand Sanitizer and masks upon entry.  

Everyone understands that a declaration from a Mayor or Governor is not enough.  To venture out people have to feel personally safe, as well so here is how her email ended:

Our COVID 19 Policies:

  • Everyone who comes into the store will be required to wear a mask and maintain proper social distancing.
  • All shoppers will need to use hand sanitizer upon entering the store.
  • Restrooms will be closed to the public until further notice.
  • We have updated our credit card machines to be hands-free and accept Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • We will be cleaning frequently touched surfaces, including books, at the beginning and end of the day, and between each customer.
  • All employees will wear masks.
  • No one will come to work if they have any symptoms.
  • All employees will frequently wash their hands.
  • If anyone in the store tests positive we will let our customers know immediately via email and on social media. 

Main Point Books in Normal Times

Looking abroad, on June 3 the Uffizi Gallery became one of the first major museums to reopen after a government lockdown that it’s Director Eike Schmidt said cost the institutions of Italy over 1 million visitors and 12 million euros in revenue. Only 450 people at a time are allowed into the Uffizi galleries. Since international tourism is virtually non-existent, Italians have a rare opportunity to see the Uffizi’s great masterpieces without jostling crowds.

Primavera (Spring) by Sandro Botticelli

The Louvre has announced that it plans to open on July 6 with 70% reduction in visitors.  75% of their public come from foreigners who now cannot travel so their 10-15,000 daily visitors will be cut by at least two thirds.

This is no return to normal but rather a great adventure into the unknown and I guess we have to all make-believe we are pioneers on a new road to who knows where.  One thing is for sure; the adventure will continue.

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