Arts Venues Open Up, With Some Precautions Still in Place

Island audiences are being welcomed back for concerts, plays, classes and other cultural events.

With the lifting of COVID restrictions in Washington, both Vashon Center for the Arts and Open Space for Arts & Community are now well into the process of welcoming island audiences back for concerts, plays, classes and other cultural events — but with a few remaining precautions in place.

Most notably, Vashon Center for the Arts is currently hosting a full array of classes and camps for children, and requiring masks for those participating unless all participants in a given class are fully vaccinated. This requirement is in line with current recommendations from Washington’s Department of Health.

Classes at Open Space, conducted by UMO School, are also following DOH guidelines for classes and camps, and prioritizing outdoor time whenever possible.

Both DOH and King County also recommend that unvaccinated people still wear face coverings in indoor spaces, so at public events, VCA now requests the same.

For performances in early July, VCA required that attendees show vaccination status at the door, but have now suspended that policy and replaced it with an honor system in the coming weeks.

In a telephone interview, VCA executive director Allison Halstead Reid cited the difficulties and staffing requirements needed to check patrons’ vaccination status. She also said it was confusing for some guests, especially given that other businesses, including Vashon Theatre, are mostly operating on the honor system at this point.

However, she said a sign would soon be posted on VCA’s door, noting VCA’s firm mask requirement for unvaccinated islanders. The new honor system will be in place as VCA hosts its first theater production since reopening — Drama Dock’s presentation of the award-winning play, “ART,” with performances July 15 to 18, in VCA’s Kay White Hall.

VCA’s gallery, now with expanded hours in effect to welcome visitors to Vashon Summer Arts Fest, mandates the same rule: masks are required for unvaccinated islanders.

For outdoor performance spaces, the calculations have been easier.

Snapdragon Bakery & Cafe grabbed the distinction of hosting the first production of a play on Vashon since 2020, with an outdoor presentation of the radio drama, “Penny Tahlequah and the Ms. Olsen Incident,” staged by Take A Stand Productions. Only a handful of attendees wore masks at that outdoor show on July 3.

Open Space for Arts & Community — with expansive grounds for outdoor performances — has opted not to present any indoor shows during the summer.

But the schedule for outdoor shows is jam-packed — including screenings at the Night Light Drive-In, which Open Space presents in partnership with Vashon Theatre.

In past weeks, Open Space has also been the site of two outdoor “Welcome Home” concerts and a sound and light show on the evening of July 4. Masks were optional for vaccinated people in these settings but encouraged for unvaccinated people — a policy that will continue throughout the summer.

This weekend, Open Space will present another show by Up Up Inc, a traveling troupe of circus artists, acrobats, musicians and illusionists. That show will take place on Sunday, July 18 at 6 p.m., on the Open Space grounds.

The following two weekends, Vashon Repertory Theatre’s Summer Theater Fest will inhabit the grounds at Open Space, with its productions of “The Tempest,” and UMO Ensemble’s “Fail Better.” Additional performances of the theater fest will take place at Ober Park, Snapdragon and VCA.

According to a statement released by Open Space, re-opening is a balancing act that the organization is taking seriously, citing the challenge of “how best to reopen by balancing new looser restrictions with policies that we believe thoroughly protect our community.”

One notable initiative in line with this philosophy at Open Space is a promise to keep it local — the organization will not advertise its summer offerings off-island or run any events that depend on off-island guests to be successful, the statement said.

Vashon Chamber of Commerce will also unveil a hyper-local “by Vashon, for Vashon” Strawberry Festival, slated to take place this Friday through Sunday. Amid many other festival events, 11 music acts will play outdoors at the Festival’s main stage and beverage garden on Saturday, starting at 12 p.m. and running until midnight.

To find out more about the Strawberry Festival and all the other live performances taking place in the coming weeks, keep reading this issue of The Beachcomber, or visit vashonchamber.com, vashoncenterforthearts.org, openspacevashon.com and vashonrepertorytheatre.org.


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