Show must go on: Performing arts, entertainment venues cleared to reopen

P-R FILE PHOTOThe crowd cheers during the closing moments of a performance by Kashmir, the live Led Zeppelin Show, at the Strand Theater in 2019. Statewide performing arts and entertainment venues will soon put on shows again. New York State cleared the industry for reopening Friday after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's March 2020 PAUSE order left them shuttered for more than a year. 

PLATTSBURGH — Statewide performing arts and entertainment venues will soon put on shows again.

New York State cleared the industry for reopening Friday after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's March 2020 PAUSE order left them shuttered for more than a year.

"Overall it's fantastic," Tom McNichols, Strand Center for the Arts and the Strand Theatre board president, said. "We can't wait to kick the doors open and get back to our community outreach as much as possible." 


Venues can reopen at 33 percent capacity, hosting up to 100 people indoors or up to 200 people outdoors.

If all attendees present proof of completed vaccination or recent negative test result prior to entry, capacity can increase up to 150 people indoors or up to 500 people outdoors.

Social distancing, face coverings, health screening and other health protocols will be required by all attendees, as well as strict adherence to all applicable NYS Department of Health guidance. 


The Strand, a historic theater in downtown Plattsburgh City, can seat 900 attendees. 

"So, unfortunately, we're not going to be able to open at full capacity by any means," McNichols said, noting that the theater would focus on local and regional acts in its early stages of reopening. 

"The national touring acts — we're going to need more capacity to make them viable."

Though its site currently lists "no upcoming events," the board president expected shows there by Memorial Day. 

Asked if the theater would check attendees for vaccinations and/or negative test results to up indoor capacities in line with the state's guidelines, McNichols said, "We will be doing absolutely everything to increase capacity as much as possible."


The last Strand Theatre show was a Whitney Houston tribute in late February 2020, which was about two weeks before the venue had to cancel all other events, starting with EagleMania on March 14. 

"Every venue in the country has been impacted," McNichols said. "It's been very serious." 

In a recent news release, Cuomo noted the industry's struggles, saying the Empire State's arts and entertainment venues had been "hard hit" by the state's public health guidance.

"After a long and difficult period, I am glad to see them reopen their doors to New Yorkers," he says in the release. "Attendees will need to follow strict guidance to keep themselves and others safe, but they'll now be able to watch world-class performances and take part in our state's thriving arts and culture scene once again."


McNichols said the latest state guidelines would allow the Strand Center for the Arts and the Strand Theatre to revive its classes, as well. 

Renovations continue on the venue's upper level via a $755,000 Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant.

Once complete, that area, including a maker's space, would open for community use, as well. 


The state recently launched its Excelsior Pass, which could be used to confirm an individual's recent negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or antigen test result or proof of vaccination.

Individuals could print the pass or store it on their phone for participating businesses or venues to scan and verify proof of a negative test or vaccination.

"I encourage New Yorkers to get tested before attending events and to use Excelsior Pass to show venues that they've been vaccinated or tested before entering performance spaces," Cuomo says in the release. 

NY PopsUp was announced on Feb. 20. The state has called the event an expansive festival to feature hundreds of pop-up performances in order to "revitalize the spirits of New Yorkers with the energy of live performances" and "jumpstart the state's live entertainment industry."

The festival was expected to grow in its scale, volume of performances and geographical footprint. Residents were advised to follow @NYPopsUp on Twitter and Instagram for updates.

Email McKenzie Delisle:

Twitter: @McKenzieDelisle

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