Nashville Symphony surveys patrons about COVID safety measures

The Nashville Symphony has put in place new COVID safety protocols
Posted at 9:32 PM, Jan 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 07:00:50-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It's been a challenging two years for those in the arts and entertainment industry, as they try to bounce back during the pandemic.

The Nashville Symphony is one of them and the president and CEO Alan Valentine is asking for the public's input in helping to make sure the music continues to play.

"Though we are performing, we are also not experiencing the kind of robust revenue that we had before the pandemic. And of course, the omicron surge is the latest of those challenges," Valentine said.

Valentine says in nearly two years, the symphony has seen a more than 20% decline in revenues associated with the pandemic. He thanks the PPP loans and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant for helping the company stay afloat.

"Now we reacted, we didn't lose $20 million. We reacted pretty quickly and made some very gut-wrenching and difficult decisions. To shut down and cancel a season," he said.

Valentine says in order to play music and perform they need the community's support and input.

"What we have been doing is really kind of testing where our audiences are with respect to how they feel about coming back," said Valentine.

From the start of the pandemic, symphony patrons have been surveyed about how they feel about the safety measures put into place by the symphony.

Right now, mask-wearing is required in the concert hall, along with proof of a negative COVID test within 72 hours or proof of vaccination.

"For the vast majority of our audiences, these protocols are the things that they feel most comfortable with and that will result in them coming back to concerts. For a good many of those respondents that said that they encouraged us to implement those protocols," said Valentine. "Again, many of them, in fact, the majority of those respondents said, in fact, it was a deal-breaker if we did not implement those kinds of protocols, that they would not feel comfortable coming back."

Valentine says there are those who oppose the protocols, but he says every voice matters when it comes to keeping people safe.

"We're a nonprofit institution. We depend on the community for support. And we get that support from people all across the political spectrum all across the community, from various walks of life and what we've learned in this moment is that it's very difficult to make everybody happy," he said.

The survey is being emailed to Symphony guests, and it's part of a national study to support arts and cultural organizations in making informed decisions about reopening.