NEWARK, NJ — The New Jersey Performing Arts Center will reopen for in-person performances this summer, after taking a leadership role in establishing best practices for hosting indoor performances, according to an April 16 press release. NJPAC has also upgraded its theaters with state-of-the-art safety equipment, including the installation of new HVAC air purification systems, and the introduction of electrostatic cleaning.
“For the past year, we’ve been preparing for the moment we can safely welcome audiences back to NJPAC,” President and CEO John Schreiber said.
When the venue reopens for in-person performances, patrons will be required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the performance. Alternatively, audience members can present a vaccination card indicating that they received a full vaccination no less than 14 days prior to the event.
“While we are currently the only venue in the state requiring testing or vaccines before a patron may enter our theaters, we feel this measure is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone on our campus,” NJPAC Executive Producer David Rodriguez said. “It is our goal to ensure that NJPAC is the safest performing arts space in the region. Should government regulations and CDC guidance change in the future, these policies will be adjusted.”
Throughout the hiatus in in-person performances, the arts center has collaborated with medical and engineering professionals on establishing best practices for hosting safe live performances. NJPAC has also invested in multiple venue upgrades to protect the health of its guests, staff, volunteers and artists.
“NJPAC has spent significant resources to ensure that our theaters not only meet CDC guidelines but exceed them,” Rodriguez said.
To reopen its campus safely, NJPAC has created a comprehensive plan to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission in all areas of the campus. The arts center’s reopening strategy was compiled with the assistance of consultants in the fields of medicine and theater operation and through conversations with leadership at other major performing arts nonprofit organizations across the country and internationally.
All operational aspects of the arts center’s physical plant were reexamined to ensure they meet the highest industry standards. These include NJPAC’s HVAC system, which has a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating of 15, exceeding industry recommendations for virus filtration. The HVAC system was also upgraded with the installation of bipolar ionization equipment, which improves the effectiveness of the filtration system by trapping small particles in the air, including virus particles, more efficiently.
The arts center’s housekeeping staff uses medical-grade cleaning products recommended by the CDC, and follows a new protocol for cleaning and sanitizing all areas of the campus regularly. NJPAC’s theaters are now also sanitized with electrostatic cleaners, which ensure that disinfectants reach and cover all surfaces in the building.
In addition, several new audience procedures are now in place to ensure that attending a performance at the arts center is as safe as possible. Every guest will undergo a quick and easy wellness screening, via a new health screening app, before entering NJPAC; in addition, a touchless temperature check of all patrons will be conducted at the door. All guests over the age of 2 will be required to cover their mouth and nose with a mask.
Touchless ticketing will be available; guests will be able to show their tickets, and have them scanned, using their mobile devices. Socially distanced and, in many instances, hands-free procedures have been designed for patrons to enter and exit the theaters and access concession stands and merchandise stalls. Hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the arts center’s campus, and “touchless” faucets, toilets and paper towel dispensers have been installed in all restroom areas.
Performances seating will be socially distanced as well, and audience size will be limited to comply with city and state regulations for indoor gatherings.
Additionally, ticket purchases are protected. If performances are canceled because of the pandemic, tickets purchased directly through NJPAC will be refunded in full, including all fees. If a show is rescheduled because of the pandemic, patrons will be notified of the new show date, and tickets will be honored for the new date. Tickets for rescheduled shows can also be exchanged or refunded.
For more information, visit NJPAC’s website at NJPAC.org.