The New Jersey Performing Arts Center announced Friday it will reopen for in-person performances this summer — and that tickets will go on sale in the coming weeks.
The announcement, however, was more about safety than shows.
NJPAC, taking a leadership role in establishing best practices for hosting indoor performances, has 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.
When the venue reopens for in-person performances, customers will be required to provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of the performance — or a vaccination card indicating that they received a full vaccination no less than 14 days prior to the event.
David Rodriguez, the arts center’s executive producer, said NJPAC is the only venue in the state with this policy. But he feels it’s worth it.
“We feel this measure is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone on our campus,” he said. “It is our goal to ensure that NJPAC is the safest performing arts space in the region.”
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.
Audience members can also visit njpac.org/health to watch a video demonstrating new entry procedures.
Here are a few of the safety measures customers will notice:
- Touchless ticketing will be available; guests will be able to show their tickets, and have them scanned, using their mobile devices;
- Hand sanitizer stations have been installed throughout the campus;
- “Touchless” faucets, toilets and paper towel dispensers have been installed in all restroom areas;
- 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;
- Performance seating will be socially distanced as well, and audience size will be limited to comply with city and state regulations for indoor gatherings.
And, while NJPAC said its guidelines will change if government regulations do, CEO John Schreiber said the organization is thrilled to have a reopening starting point.
“For the past year, we’ve been preparing for the moment we can safely welcome audiences back to NJPAC,” he said.
NJPAC officials noted that 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.)
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.
NJPAC officials said the 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. Among the new procedures and health and safety upgrades to the maintenance of NJPAC:
- 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 MERV 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. Visitors to NJPAC will notice both changes to the facility and new practices that will keep everyone in the arts center’s theaters healthy, including:
- 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 will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test from the past three days or a completed vaccination card (indicating that the guest received a full vaccination at least 14 days prior to the event) before entering the building;.
- All guests over the age of 2 will be required to cover their mouth and nose with a mask;
While no precautions can absolutely guarantee that audience members will not be exposed to COVID-19 while attending an event, NJPAC officials feel these new systems and procedures make the arts center one of the safest live performance venues anywhere.