Welcome to this week’s Northrop MOVES Online. I am so thrilled that in just one short week, on Tue, Aug 4 at 7:00 pm, we will be announcing our 2020-21 Northrop Season, which will be full of Northrop favorites and newcomers as well as both digital and in-person ways to participate. (Please RSVP to join us.) Today I want to share some information on what measures we are taking to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, so that when you decide the time is right for you to return to Northrop, you can do so with full confidence that we have both your pleasure and your safety in mind.
Northrop’s reopening committee, a cross departmental team of ten staff members, has spent the past two months combing through resources such as the CDC and MN Department of Health guidelines on COVID-19, the Stay Safe MN Guidelines for Reopening Seated Entertainment, and the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide For Event Professionals During the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as consulting with professionals in health, safety, HVAC systems, cleaning protocols, other cultural institutions locally and nationally, and more. Additionally we have had the resource of the Audience Outlook Monitor, the international research study conducted by WolfBrown—one of the top arts researchers in the nation. We now have three months of data from you, Northrop audience members, to help guide our reopening approach. We are so grateful to those of you who have responded to date. If you haven’t received a survey invitation yet, watch your email over the next five months as the longitudinal survey continues through December, allowing us to see changes over time.
So far we have learned that the top factor that will increase your comfort level returning to public gatherings is the wide distribution of a vaccine. While that particular development is being actively pursued by many experts worldwide, you told us about other steps we can take in the meantime. The most important considerations influencing your decision to return to Northrop include a mask requirement, enhanced cleaning protocols, seating patrons apart from one another, and physical distancing throughout the venue. You also told us how important it is to have a choice between attending events in person and having the ability to watch from the comfort of your home. Based on feedback from our patrons and guidance from resources listed above, here are a few of the things that you can expect when you return:
Prior to arrival, staff and guests are asked to conduct a health check. If you show symptoms of illness, please stay home and call the box office for assistance. We have ensured that our exchange, donation, and refund policy is flexible and full of options, giving you the ability to convert your in-person ticket to a live stream ticket, exchange your ticket for another performance, support Northrop by donating the value of your ticket, or request a refund.
Northrop has been working very closely with University of Minnesota Facilities Management (FM) on cleaning and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) protocols for our building. FM will be performing enhanced cleaning for public spaces including restrooms, door push bars and handles, stair railings, elevator buttons, and other high touch areas. They have acquired misters that will allow them to disinfect the theater seats efficiently and effectively between performances. Hand sanitizer stations will be available at each building entrance. Public drinking fountains will be out of service, but touchless water bottle filling stations will be available so please bring your water bottles!
Northrop’s entire HVAC system was replaced during the 2011-2014 renovation and is state of the art. The UMN HVAC team has programmed our system to run continuously and ventilate per ASHRAE 62.1-2019 Table 6-1. Outdoor air ventilation will be increased beyond ASHRAE 62.1-2019 Table 6-1 and filtration will be improved to MERV-13.
Governor Walz’s guidance currently limits venues to 25% of capacity and no more than 250 patrons. As you can imagine, in a venue with 2,700 seats this gives us a great deal of flexibility to spread out seating assignments and give ample room for distancing in restrooms, lobbies, and the theater. We have worked with our Northrop Presents artists to shorten some performances and eliminate intermissions to reduce lobby and restroom congestion during breaks. We will assign attendees a specific building entrance from which to access the building based on seat location, which will consolidate foot traffic, get patrons to their seats efficiently, and minimize contact with others. Seat assignments will not be given upon purchase, and will instead be given approximately one week prior to each event, in order to give flexibility to adapt to changing guidelines.
This is just a glimpse into the work we’ll be doing to keep you, our staff, and our artists safe during the coming months. This year during Northrop's extraordinary 2020-21 season, you will be inspired by incredible performances and unique opportunities to engage with artists. Students and educators across the state will have vital access to the arts through education programs for students. But we need your help, especially this year, to keep the arts alive, onstage, online, and in our communities. You can support Northrop by subscribing, donating, and purchasing tickets, whether you are comfortable attending in person, or prefer to participate online. Tickets to the 2020-21 Northrop Season go on sale at 8:00 pm on Tue, Aug 4.
I encourage you to follow Northrop’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media channels for updates and event details. We'll share profiles, blog posts, news stories, and interactive content about the many companies and artists included in the 2020-21 Northrop Season after we announce on Tue, Aug 4.
I am full of hope and anticipation for the day when we can welcome you back in person. In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you at the joyous announcement of Northrop’s 2020-21 Season on Tue, Aug 4, 7:00 pm. Please RSVP to join us.
Director of Northrop