Local arts leaders plan events as new guidance for outdoor performances takes effect April 1

Apr 2, 2021

The California Department of Public Health released new guidelines for outdoor seated live events and performances that went into effect April 1.

The new guidelines allow performances at permanent, outdoor facilities, focused around central areas or stages designed primarily for viewing by an audience.

That means venues such as the Avila Beach Resort and Vina Robles Amphitheatre may begin to plan for outdoor, in-person performances.

The guidelines also outline regulations and safety protocols for holding outdoor performances in each COVID-19 tier.

Since San Luis Obispo County is in the less restrictive red tier, venues may host events up to 20 percent capacity and spectators must be in-state residents.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and venues may sell in-seat concessions.

Capacity limits increase for counties in the orange and yellow tiers to 33% and 67%, respectively.

The Central Coast Coalition of Arts Leaders (C3OAL) is a group that formed in response to the pandemic as a way to foster collaboration and increase communication between San Luis Obispo County arts organizations and venues.

Chris Miller is the managing director of the Performing Arts Center in San Luis Obispo and co-chair of C3OAL. He said nearly 4,200 people responded to a recent survey the coalition sent out to gauge local audience perception about live performances.

Miller said a majority of respondents expressed interest in safely attending events.

“When we move to the idea of being able to sit outdoors safely and watch live performance, nearly 80% of the respondents said they were at least somewhat interested in that format,” Miller said. “So I think that gives us some guidance in terms of what we should focus on for outdoor performance formats in the next several months.”

Anna James Miller is the executive director of San Luis Obispo Symphony and the other co-chair of C3OAL.

She said it is refreshing to see the new guidelines align with the coalition’s goals to host live performances.

“This is so great,” James Miller said. “We’ve been asking for these performance guidelines of the state since last August, so it’s been a really long time coming.”

James Miller said the symphony is using the guidelines to plan an outdoor concert at Sinsheimer Park in San Luis Obispo on May 29.

She said San Luis Obispo Repertory Theatre is also planning to start outdoor performances over the next few weeks.

James Miller said the coalition expects to receive state guidelines for indoor performances soon.