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AGMA and SDC Release Return-to-Work Playbook

Published August 26, 2020   |  By Alicia Cook  |  Post in All Areas

AUGUST 26, 2020 - American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) and Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) announce the wide release of the AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook.

“From the onset of this life-changing pandemic, the economic security, health, and safety of our members have been top of mind. AGMA, SDC, and our medical experts are extremely proud of our Playbook, as it helps to address the unique risks of singing, dancing, stage managing, choreographing, and directing,” said Len Egert, National Executive Director of AGMA. “Our Playbook was initially intended as an internal tool for AGMA and SDC, but we are happy to make it widely available to the industry at large, because we are all in this together.”

The overarching goal of this Playbook is to help performing arts organizations responsibly reopen so that AGMA artists and SDC Members can safely return to work. The AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook helps to address the unique challenges of singing, dancing, stage managing, choreographing, and directing by outlining the layers of protection necessary to mitigate risks.

Notably, the Playbook presents a step-by-step approach to reopening built on five levels linked to the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community and allows for increasing activities based on clear criteria. The key is ensuring proper space and ventilation for the activity involved, augmented by a foundation of consistent and thorough hygiene practices and regular testing.

“Ensuring a safe return to work is now at the forefront of our work even as we continue to navigate the devastating impact of the pandemic on our Members and the industry at large. The forced closure of performance spaces across the country led us to this collaborative effort with AGMA and our medical experts and the result is this Playbook,” said Laura Penn, Executive Director of SDC. “It has already proved invaluable in working with employers and in educating our Members about what getting back to work safely will look like. We will continue to support the memberships of SDC and AGMA with refinements to the Playbook as new information comes to light.”

The two entertainment unions—AGMA, which represents opera and choral singers, ballet and modern dancers, and staging staff, and SDC, representing theatre stage directors and choreographers—have been working with a team of medical experts Dr. Mark Cunningham-Hill, Dr. Steven J. Anderson, and Dr. Laura S. Welch since June. These experts have decades’ worth of experience in protecting the health of employees and maintaining healthy workplaces. 

"SARS-CoV-2 poses particular risks for the performing arts and a science and data-driven approach is required to bring performances back that are safe for all involved," said Dr. Cunningham-Hill. "Collaborating with AGMA and SDC has allowed us to provide a common message so everyone understands the part they play in achieving that goal."

In addition to the Playbook, AGMA and SDC, alongside their medical experts, have created a series of webinars for the unions’ members, each focusing on the unique challenges of specific disciplines, including dancing, singing, directing, and choreography. Over 1,000 members have participated to date in these in-depth presentations and discussions. 

To access the AGMA/SDC Return to Stage and Performing Arts Playbook please visit here.