Choruses and COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
(image via pixabay)
Chorus America continues to track news and collect information about the impact of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) from our members and partners. This page serves as our central hub of information to help you stay informed about reopening and advocacy developments as the choral field moves forward together.
Returning to In-Person Singing and Performing
We're currently collecting resources to help choruses budget and plan, from thoughts on rehearsal protocols to audience behavior.
- New CDC Guidelines: Reactions from Medical Professionals with Performing Arts Advisory Experience (May 14, 2021) The CDC’s updated guidance for fully vaccinated people (released May 13) includes the news that singing in an indoor chorus without masks is now considered a “safest” activity for those vaccinated. As part of our 2021 Summer Conference, Chorus America is presenting a session called “What's Next: Preparing for a Healthy, Safe Reopening” that brings together a panel of doctors with experience advising performing arts organizations. We asked the panelists to share their initial reactions to the new CDC guidelines:
- Vaccine Considerations from the Legal Perspective (May 7, 2021) In the U.S., under federal law and current guidelines, choruses—like other private employers and organizations—can require staff, volunteers, and audiences to get vaccinated in most cases. Here is more detail about those guidelines.
- Updated CDC Guidelines for Fully Vaccinated People (April 27, 2021) The CDC released new guidelines that list many new activities as "safer" activities for fully vaccinated people. Singing in an indoor chorus is one of the specific activities mentioned, and is now listed as a "safest" activity for fully vaccinated people when masks are worn by all participants. The CDC continues to recommend considering how COVID-19 is spreading in your community, the number of people participating in the activity, and the location of the activity and notes that outdoor activities are safer than indoor activities.
- National Endowment for the Arts Reopening webinar The Arts Endowment is providing key information about how arts organization can reopen their venues in a free webinar called the Art of Reopening on Tuesday, March 23, 2021 from 3:00-4:00 pm ET. Special guest Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health will provide opening remarks. View a recording of the webinar here.
- Member Questions: Can My Chorus Sing Together Safely If We Are All Vaccinated? (March 16, 2021) Here are considerations based on the CDC's most recent guidance on group gatherings.
- APAP|NYC+ 2021: Dr. Anthony Fauci: "Public Health and the Re-opening of the Performing Arts: a 30-minute interview covering the following topics that are relevant to choruses and the performing arts:
- COVID IMPACT ON THE ARTS (0:12)
- TIMELINE ON RETURNING TO “NORMAL” (1:54)
- ASYMPTOMATIC SPREAD (2:55)
- IS IT SAFE ONCE YOU ARE VACCINATED? (5:22)
- GETTING THE ARTS BACK TO WORK (6:45)
- PERFORMANCE IN THE U.S. VS. OTHER COUNTRIES? (11:34)
- CAN PERFORMING ARTISTS SAFELY TOUR? (14:53)
- PERFORMING ARTS AS PART OF THE SOLUTION (16:26)
- HOW TO ENSURE AUDIENCES ARE COVID-FREE (20:42)
- HOW TO MAKE INDOOR PERFORMANCES SAFE (21:38)
- CAN WE SAFELY HOLD PERFORMANCES OUTDOORS? (23:27)
- WHEN CAN CHILDREN RETURN TO THE THEATER? (24:17)
- INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS RETURNING TO THE U.S. (25:26)
- HOW LONG WILL VACCINES LAST? (26:24)
- FINAL WORDS OF ADVICE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS (27:07)
- Know Your Own Bone blog by Colleen Dilenschneider: data-driven insights into audience intent to visit cultural institutions
- WolfBrown Audience Outlook Monitor: WolfBrown has launched Audience Outlook Monitor, an international collaboration between top researchers, funders, service organizations, and hundreds of cultural organizations who want to make informed decisions about how and when to re-start programming based on rigorous research data. Several choral organizations have been part of this research.
Relief Funding and Congressional Action
Chorus America is working with our advocacy partners to stay on top of the latest developments as the federal government enacts new forms of relief.
SVOG Relief Funding Update (April 22, 2021) The SVOG funding applications, which were supposed to open Thursday, April 8, have still not opened. Senior White House leadership indicated that a launch date could come by the end of the week of April 19, but also stated that applicants would have the opportunity to review a new FAQ and applicant guide in advance of the portal re-opening. New guidance has not yet been released.
This website which includes frequently asked questions and other SVOG details, is the best source for information for those looking to apply for a grant. To prepare in advance of the SVOG application portal opening, potential applicants should get registered in the federal government’s System for Award Management (SAM.gov), as this is required for an entity to receive an SVOG, and reference the preliminary application checklist and eligibility requirements.
American Rescue Plan Act Information (March 16, 2021) The Performing Arts Alliance (PAA), of which Chorus America is a member shared a comprehensive update on the American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Biden. The plan will extend many current COVID-19 relief provisions and provide critical new ones. Update highlights are below; you can read the full update and sign up to receive news directly from the PAA here.
Paycheck Protection Program: An additional $7.25 billion will be added to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) resources, and eligibility changes will allow nonprofits with no more than 500 employees at each location to be eligible for forgivable loans. As of March 7, the SBA PPP Data show that $165 billion of the $280 billion of PPP funding made available for 2021 has been distributed to loan applicants. The 2021 PPP program is now open for all eligible applicants for first and second draws and is currently slated to close on March 31, 2021. (Update from March 25: the PPP deadline has been extended to May 31, 2021.)
New Dual Eligibility for Shuttered Venue Operators Grants and PPP: Rules that had required applicants to choose between seeking a 2021 PPP loan or a Shuttered Venue Operators Grant have changed.
Under the new terms of the American Rescue Plan, 2021 PPP recipients will be eligible to apply for a Shuttered Venues Operators Grant (SVOG) and deduct the value of their 2021 PPP loan from the applicant's SVOG maximum grant amount (45% of 2019 earned revenue, capped at $10 million).
While the SVOG program has not yet opened for applications, the Small Business Administration is releasing eligibility guidance on the SVOG website and through continuously updated SVOG Frequently Asked Questions. SBA FAQ's indicate eligibility for the 28-day priority period for receiving Shuttered Venue grants will be determined based on declines in gross revenue (90% for the first fourteen days and 70% for the second fourteen days), from April 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 as compared to 2019. All SVOG applicants must demonstrate a 25% decline in earned revenue, in one calendar quarter of 2020, compared to the same quarter in 2019.
An additional $1.25 billion in funding will be available to support the SVOG program, bringing total funding to $16.25 billion.
Employee Retention Tax Credit: The refundable payroll tax credits that are currently available in the first two quarters of 2021 will be extended through the remainder of the calendar year.
National Endowment for the Arts COVID-19 Relief: The National Endowment for the Arts will receive an additional $135 million -- its largest emergency funding -- in dedicated funding, with 40% allocated to state/regional arts agencies and 60% to support direct grants to organizations. Here is an FAQ with more information. The NEA will release further information about the process and timeframe for implementing new grants soon, and anticipates guidelines being available in late April.
Recording of SBA Preliminary "Save our Stages" Webinar The Small Business Administration (SBA) hosted a preliminary webinar regarding the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants (known as the Save Our Stages Program) on Thursday, January 14.
In advance of opening the grant-making process, SBA will host future webinars, including a pre-application information session
Once the grant window opens, grants will be processed "in order of priority;" full details on what this means still to come.
As the SBA continues to work on full guidance, it will soon post online a top-level matrix comparing PPP to Shuttered Venue Operators Grants.
In the meantime, SBA advises interested applicants to:
Send questions to [email protected]
Keep in mind that, once the grantmaking process opens, local SBA offices may be a helpful resource in preparing applications
Begin assembling basic information about prior monthly revenue information and list of potential uses of Shuttered Venue Operator grant funds.
*Your elected officials will likely be key partners in helping you to gain access to any relief available, so we urge you to help build and strengthen those relationships now.
Research and Data Resources and Tools:
- Performing Arts Aerosolization Study (led by University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland)
- Georgia Tech Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
- Colorado State Mask Efficiency Evaluation Tool (including singers masks)
Presented in partnership with National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), and Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA).
Preliminary Study Results on the Safety of Singing (August 10)
This webinar discusses the singing specific content from the preliminary study results on aerosols in the performing arts being undertaken at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland. Guests include Dr. Jelena Srebric, professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland and a lead researcher on the Performing Arts Aerosol Study jointly funded by leading performing arts organizations; and otolaryngologist Dr. Lucinda Halstead, president of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA).
- CDC Considerations for Events and Gatherings
- Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide
- University of Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music COVID Research
- Western ACDA Division paper
- ACDA COVID Resources
- Chorus America COVID Resources
- Barbershop Harmony Society COVID Resources
- NATS COVID Resources
Singing - What We CAN Do (May 26)
This webinar focuses on examples of how singers and singing ensembles are producing their art now, as physical distancing guidelines continue to be in place. A variety of guests will share promising projects and existing and emerging technologies that keep us connected and singing. The discussion will be moderated by Chorus America board chair Brian Newhouse, and feature guests including Francisco and Elizabeth Núñez of Young People's Chorus of New York City and G. Phillip Shoultz of VocalEssence. Access the webinar recording here.
What Do Science and Data Say About the Near Term Future of Singing? (May 5)
Chorus America joined with the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), along with American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), and Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) to present an important webinar on May 5 about the near term future of singing as we seek fact based solutions in protecting our singers, teachers and conductors during this time. Access the webinar recording and related resources here.
Cancellations and Postponements
- Chorus Connection: What To Do When Your Concert Gets Canceled
- iCadenza: Cancelled gigs due to coronavirus?
- Chorus Connection: Transforming Your Fundraising Event into a Virtual Event, or a Non-Event
- Performing Arts Website: Financial Losses Calculator
- Creative Community Singing Outlets in the Face of COVID-19
- New Choral Broadcasts to Get Us Through COVID-19
Virtual Ensemble Creation Free Download (from Developlay)
- Chorus Connection blog
- ArtsReady: Emergency Preparedness and Insurance Policies,
- Event Safety Alliance - Webinar: 8 Steps that Should be Taken by Organizations that Host Public Events
- Facebook Live interview: Choral Arts on artistic contingency planning and virtual rehearsal options
Monitoring the Situation
This situation continues to develop, and affects different communities in different ways at different times. In addition to monitoring information from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s important to check your state and local health agencies for guidance specific to your location.
The CDC have issued guidance to help businesses and employers and are working to produce planning guides for COVID-19 that community-based organizations can use.