Editor’s note: As the pandemic continues, KERA and The Dallas Morning News are collaborating to learn how local arts venues are keeping guests safe from COVID.
If you’re going to Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth and don’t have proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a recent negative COVID test, you can get tested onsite at a mobile healthcare clinic. Tests cost $65, and results are available in about 15 minutes.
The venue, operated by Performing Arts Fort Worth, began hosting the clinic after implementing new entry protocols Nov. 1. Bass Hall asks patrons ages 12 and older to show a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event or present proof of full vaccination and photo identification. Masking is still in effect.
The new requirements apply for performances given by Performing Arts Fort Worth, Texas Ballet Theater, Fort Worth Opera and the Cliburn.
Noticeably absent on that list is the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, which is the only group that has decided not to follow the guidelines.
Keith Cerny, president and CEO of the FWSO, said in a statement the orchestra will maintain its current health and safety protocols, including mandated masking, contactless ticketing and extensive cleaning and sanitizing.
Bass Hall was shut down for live performances from March 2020 to July 2021 because of COVID concerns. In September 2020, the FWSO had to scramble to reschedule its performances at Will Rogers Auditorium. The orchestra returned to Bass Hall with the start of the 2021-22 season.
The development adds another step for Bass Hall guests, who are also screened for weapons with metal detectors when they enter.
Texas businesses are prohibited from requiring customers to show proof of COVID vaccination under a law signed by Gov. Greg Abbott in June. Abbott later issued an executive order banning vaccine requirements from groups that receive public funds, or that expect to in the future through grants, contracts, loans or other disbursements.
So many concert venues, music festivals and sporting arenas in the state are taking an approach similar to Bass Hall’s, but without the mobile testing site.
Dallas Theater Center, for example, is asking for a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination for its current run of A Christmas Carol at the AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Wyly Theatre.
ATTPAC’s venues are asking audiences for COVID tests or vaccine proof upon request from resident companies or visiting artists. In other words, it depends on the show.
Also in the downtown Arts District, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra mandates masks, but not COVID tests or vaccines, for audiences at the Meyerson Symphony Center. And Moody Performance Hall, which is owned and operated by the city of Dallas, encourages masks, but doesn’t require them.
Meanwhile, the new omicron variant of the coronavirus has popped up around the world, raising concerns about a potential surge in cases this winter.
A version of this story also appears on dallasnews.com. Tim Diovanni of The News is reporting on classical music in a fellowship supported in part by the Rubin Institute for Music Criticism, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Ann and Gordon Getty Foundation. The News makes all editorial decisions.