UPDATE: The Smith Center is reopen!
The Smith Center is planning to reopen and we cannot wait to welcome you back. It has been a long and tough 500+ days. Most of our team was furloughed or laid off and our small skeleton crew was expected to do the work of many in an effort to get to the day when we could hire people once again. We have cancelled or re-scheduled nearly 500 shows.
During the dark period, we were able to make upgrades to the HVAC filtering system, invest in technology and equipment to help clean and sanitize the entire complex, change to a mobile ticketing system and create a cashless point of sale system. All of these actions help to reduce contact with surfaces and make the facility safer for everyone.
For the last year and a half I have been on weekly Zoom calls with local Vegas venue operators, as well as with with the Broadway League membership and top performing arts centers in North America. Each week we learned something new. We heard from Harvard epidemiologists, representatives from the CDC and the NIH, and learned from the experts.
Our patrons tell us that they can’t wait to return, but will not do so until they feel it is safe to do so. We are doing everything we can to prepare for them. We can disinfect and sanitize every surface, but we must also follow stringent attendance guidelines in order to keep our employees, artists and audiences safe.
We look forward to the day when these efforts are no longer needed, but for now we will follow rules similar to those established by the two largest concert promoters in the world, AEG and Live Nation, as well as the Las Vegas Raiders, the entire Broadway community, and theaters across the country. As we prepare for a mid-September opening, we anticipate requiring proof of vaccination and the use of face masks for everyone entering the building. Is this ideal? No. Is it necessary right now, Yes. This is what we need to do to reopen, this is what our patrons have told us, and this is what the experts are recommending. We are following best practices.
There is some good news. One industry survey showed the performing arts patrons are more likely to be vaccinated, and this should help.
Our plan has received a great deal of support from our guests, but there have been detractors as well. Please don’t hate the messenger. We are just trying to find a way to reopen our doors and hire the great people who were sidelined during the pandemic. We want to keep them all as safe as possible.
By the time we reopen, I am sure that many of our current plans and thoughts will change as the variants change. That is why we will continue to follow the science and the recommendations of the SNHD and the CDC.
I look forward to giving you a fist bump when I see you in the lobby. In the meantime, please be safe.