Northrop MOVES Online: Steps we are taking to reopen safely

Jul 08, 2020

Welcome to this week’s Northrop MOVES Online. I trust this note finds you feeling healthy and hopeful. One key component to weathering times of crisis is hope, and a key component of hope is the belief that we have the ability to make choices, take steps, and influence outcomes. We at Northrop are holding onto hope, and turning that into action.

During the first several weeks of the COVID-19 shut down, all focus was on the immediate needs of postponing and canceling events, communicating with patrons, artists, and partners, closing down the building, and equipping our staff to work from home.

Now, over the past two months, we have shifted our focus to the future—working to ensure that next season’s programming is robust and nimble, our facility is prepared for the return of patrons, and our staff will be trained and ready. We have been working alongside our colleagues in cultural institutions both locally and nationally to create innovative solutions to the challenges that lie ahead, and to reinvent what it means to be a performing arts presenter. We have heard from almost 700 of you through a series of surveys that are part of an international study looking at the impact of COVID-19 on your intentions to attend future arts and culture events, and the things that will be important to you when it’s time to gather again. We have been consulting with health and safety experts on how best to prepare for that day so that when you're ready to return, we're ready to welcome you.

As part of the University of Minnesota we are fortunate to have guidance from some of the best experts in facility operations and in health and safety. Northrop has assembled a cross-departmental reopening committee that has been coordinating with experts on and off campus, locally and nationally. We have been working with a team of HVAC professionals to evaluate Northrop’s ventilation systems. A team of facilities management professionals also has been working with Northrop on increased cleaning protocols that include deeper and more frequent cleaning, using products and methods approved by the EPA. The committee has been working on social distancing protocols including installing glass windows at our Box Offices, Plexiglas barriers at the Surdyk’s Café and concessions counters, using touchless ticketing, and installing signage throughout our facility. Per the guidelines set forth by Governor Tim Walz in the Stay Safe MN Plan, we have created new socially distanced seating charts for Carlson Family Stage as well as socially distanced protocols to guide crews and artists in safe practices onstage and in backstage spaces.

Additionally, as part of a group of Minnesota cultural institutions that gathers weekly to coordinate reopening our venues, we have had the opportunity to consult with Dr. Michael Osterholm, infectious disease expert from the U of M, as well as representatives from Governor Walz’s office, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Department of Education. I am very excited that over the upcoming month we will be sharing more details about our preparations and programming. 

I have been continuously amazed by the innovative, creative ways that artists are sharing their work digitally during this unusual time. I hope you are following Northrop’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram social media channels for Daily Inspiration posts to keep you inspired and connected!

I am full of hope and anticipation for the day when we can throw open our doors and welcome you back in person. In the meantime, please stay safe, healthy, hopeful, and inspired.

Kari Schloner
Director of Northrop

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