Terry Burrell in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill at Theatrical Outfit (Photos by Christopher Bartelski)

A coalition of Atlanta’s arts organizations have partnered with the nursing school at Emory University to create guidelines for safely reopening theatres and performance venues.

Actor’s Express has led a coalition of 18 arts organizations in creating a partnership with the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University to evaluate and study performing arts operations. This evaluation will lead to the creation of a set of guidelines and suggestions on how to  safely and responsibly reopen as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Expected to be released in August, the study will analyze data on how patrons, performers, and staff interact, and propose ways to safely return to work and performance as soon as it’s safe to do so. These plans will also take into account current statistics on new infections in the community, and define benchmarks for reopening.

After all 18 of the participating performing arts companies have completed an assessment tool, the project architects will analyze the data to create standard operating procedures for each area of operation, including front of house, performance, and backstage. These operating procedures can be applied across all the performing arts companies in the region.

Then the Doctor of Nursing Practice students at Emory will go one step further, issuing specific guidance to each participating performing arts company detailing how it can adapt workflows to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

“Because every operation is different and each venue has a unique set of challenges, no one sweeping policy will work for everyone,” said Morgan Clark-Youngblood, a DNP candidate at the Emory School of Nursing. “Through this partnership as well as guidance from the CDC and Georgia Department of Public Health, we hope to find a set of guidelines all performance venues can put in place to reduce risk to audiences, artists, and crew, as well as specific action plans for each company participating in the study. ”

Participating Arts Companies 

7 Stages

Actor’s Express

The Alliance Theatre

ART Station

Atlanta Lyric Theatre

Aurora Theatre

Center for Puppetry Arts

Dad’s Garage

Dance Canvas

Found Stages

Georgia Ensemble Theatre

Horizon Theatre Company

Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company

Out Front Theatre Company

Stage Door Players


Terminus Dance

Theatrical Outfit