WASHINGTON, D.C.: Theatre Washington and Limelight Insights by Shugoll have released the results of an online survey about theatre mask and vaccination requirements. Based on responses from 2,128 D.C. area theatregoers from March 14-17, significantly more audience members responded negatively than positively about ending these requirements in theatres.
With these results in mind and in agreement with partner theatres, Theatre Washington has extended the Unified Mask and Vaccination Policy to April 30, and will continue to review these measures as the new season approaches in August.
“We are monitoring the decisions made in other industries, such as restaurants, movies, and travel, as well as in other cities and on Broadway,” said Amy Austin, president and CEO of Theatre Washington, in a statement. “The safety of our audiences is of utmost concern to us.”
Notably, 53 percent of theatregoers surveyed say they are against ending the mask requirement on April 30, and 39 percent identified as “very negative” about ending the requirement. Just 30 percent of audience members are “somewhat positive” and 22 percent are “very positive” about ending the mask requirement. Just 49 percent of respondents said that they would attend the theatre as often as they currently do without the mask requirement, while 38 percent said they would attend less often.
“These statistics indicate that theatregoers are concerned about attending the theatre this spring without a mask requirement,” said project director Mark Shugoll in a statement. “But as the dominoes fall to eliminate mask requirements in other areas of entertainment, theatres may be hard-pressed to continue this policy much beyond the end of April.”
Meanwhile, 77 percent of theatregoers consider themselves “very negative” about eliminating the vaccination requirement on April 30, with just 6 percent reporting that they would “strongly like” the vaccination requirement to end. A striking 78 percent of respondents strongly believe audiences should be required to show proof of a booster shot, with 6 percent strongly opposed to adding the booster requirement.
More than half of respondents answered “not sure” when asked about the right time to eliminate masks in theatres; 61 percent of audience members who registered an opinion on the subject said the earliest theatres should end the mask requirement is June. And 71 percent of theatregoers were in favor of ending the mask requirement in August.
“Since June is the traditional end of the theatre season in the D.C. area and August is approaching the launch of a new season, these are logical months to make a change,” Shugoll said.
The study was conducted using an online survey sent to subscribers and single-ticket buyers at eight D.C. area theatres: Arena Stage, Imagination Stage, Olney Theatre Center, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Signature Theatre, Studio Theatre, and Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. Participants were required to attend at least one production since theatres reopened.
Theatre Washington is the service organization for D.C.-area theatres. It supports the professional theatre community by celebrating artistic achievement, strengthening the theatrical workforce, supporting institutional growth and advancement, and cultivating collective action. Some of Theatre Washington’s programs include the Helen Hayes Awards, Theatre Week, Theatre Summit, Theatre Work, and the Taking Care Fund.
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