It has been over two years since the start of the pandemic, which shut down the performing arts industry. As we look ahead, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel and the return of some normalcy, but we are not out of the woods just yet.
With positive cases rising around the country once again, employers must ensure that COVID protocols are in place and upheld. These protections have been vital to protecting Artists and helping organizations continue to perform throughout the pandemic. Unfortunately, the relaxation of city, state, and federal COVID standards has left many choirs and choruses (often non-union) vulnerable to the recent surge; we now face a substantial increase in positive cases in the singing community, spurred by multiple superspreader concerts throughout the country. Past experience has shown that there are no foolproof answers but implementing and maintaining sensible protocols will give us the best chance we have. This is why we write to you today.
The AGMA Opera & Concert Choristers Caucus calls upon non-union arts administrators, choir directors, and chorus contractors to ensure that organizations are operating safely. We must stay vigilant to the threat of COVID outbreaks in order to protect our Artists and keep our companies open.
COVID presents serious health risks to both the person who contracts the virus and those around them, particularly those who are immunocompromised or have children. It also causes economic hardship, as singers – particularly non-union singers – must quarantine, which often means they lose the rehearsal and performance fees vital to their livelihoods.
For the past two years, our union, the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), has worked with an expert medical advisory panel to issue regularly updated guidance on COVID protocols. It is available publicly, here.
These guidelines are being used by companies around the country – union and non-union alike – to respond to the pandemic in safe and rational ways, and to adjust as circumstances fluctuate. We ask you to consult these protocols and make sure you are making choices that do not risk the safety or livelihood of your Artists, who have fought so hard to make it through the pandemic and return to their jobs.
If you or any Choral Artist would like to talk more about keeping our industry safe and strong, please reach out to us at OCCC@musicalartists.org.
We thank the organizations, churches, and contractors for your continued efforts to revitalize the choral music world. We are all striving to rebuild our industry; it is important that we work together – safely – to make it stronger than it was before.
The AGMA Opera & Concert Choristers Caucus