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Entertainment Venues in Ohio Can Reopen, With Restrictions

Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company

Ohio’s Interim Health Director Lance Himes signed an order Tuesday outlining what entertainment venues need to do to reopen for public performances. Dressing rooms must be sanitized. Box office windows need to put up partitions. Plus, performances might not have intermissions anymore to prevent crowding.

One major limitation is that indoor performance spaces have to cap attendance at 15 percent of capacity or 300 people, whichever is less. The requirement poses challenges for local performance groups who are already struggling after months of cancelled shows.

Debbie Blunden-Diggs, Chief Artistic Administrator and Producing Director for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company said having all of the theaters in Dayton closed feels gloomy.

Debbie Blunden-Diggs Small Headshot
Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Debbie Blunden-Diggs, Chief Artistic Administrator and Producing Director for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company

“Every time I'm downtown and I walk past the Victoria or the Schuster or the Arts Annex, I'm really sad that all of these people that keep a vibrant arts community up and running are not working at this moment,” she said. “I really just want to see us move back into a working vibrant theater community.”

If limited seating is the path back to that community, she said she is all for it. But that does not mean it will be easy. The company’s first in-person performance is scheduled for November at the Dayton Art Institute. The auditorium can fit nearly 500 people, but they will only be able to let in about 75.

“It's going to be extremely difficult. It's going to cause a whole new economic challenge, especially for nonprofit arts organizations,” she said. “We do rely on an income stream from ticket sales, which now has been cut to 15 percent.”

Almost a quarter of the dance company’s annual budget comes from ticket sales, which includes local and touring performances combined. Blunden-Diggs said the company will have to get creative to make up for the lost revenue from ticket sales.

While working at the station Leila Goldstein has covered the economic effects of grocery cooperatives, police reform efforts in Dayton and the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hiring trends, telehealth and public parks. She also reported Trafficked, a four part series on misinformation and human trafficking in Ohio.