Some local arts, entertainment venues reopen with audiences for first time since last March


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Event, arts, and entertainment venues were able reopen Friday in New York State.

Venues can reopen at 33% capacity for up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. If everyone attending shows a negative test, capacity increases. Social distancing and masks are still required.

The Avenue Blackbox Theatre held a poetry and painting event Friday night, part of their weekly Friday Black AF series which they have been live streaming during the pandemic.

There were two COVID-safe sets and advanced RSVP was required.

Reenah Golden is the founder and said she’s happy to see people enjoy the live shows again.

“We decided to have a few people in, this is an event that features our young people so it’s nice for them to actually have a live audience so they were able to invite some of their friends,” Golden said.

She said while the audience is small, just a handful of socially distanced tables, it’s a start.

“For me, one of my greatest joys is actually looking out and watching people enjoying themselves, having a good time, especially right here on Joseph Avenue and being in a community that doesn’t have any other performing arts venues.”

Some local theaters are waiting to reopen. Mark Cuddy is the artistic director of Geva Theater.

“For us to open the facility, it’s a huge operation of staffing and cleaning and safety protocols and to do anything at limited capacity is just not financially feasible for us,” Cuddy said. “We’re hoping that capacity is at or near full capacity by the fall by the time we have audiences indoors.”

Geva will continue to live stream shows on the stage in May. They also plan to put on outdoor shows with an audience in the summer.

The state’s excelsior pass also extends to smaller venues today. This is an app that can be used as proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test.

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