BLOOMINGTON – Live music is back–with a catch. In an effort to create the safest possible environment to enjoy live music, film, theater, and other performing arts, the Buskirk-Chumley Theater will be the first large venue in Bloomington to require COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for all shows.
“This is what we need to do to resume having shows,” said Executive Director Jonah Crismore, who has been closely observing how the national touring and performing arts industry has been handling a rise in COVID-19 cases and the Delta variant.
“The safety of our patrons, staff, and touring artists has been our number one priority since the beginning of the pandemic,” Crismore says. “Our second priority has been to bring back the quality programming and entertainment the community has been longing to resume.”
BCT Management staff have been working tirelessly over the past 18 months to bring life back into downtown Bloomington’s iconic venue. A few shows this fall, including “An Evening with Leo Kottke” on September 15, had already been rescheduled twice since the first wave of cancelations in March of 2020.
About a year ago, many shows were canceled by the artists themselves when pockets of COVID-19 surges began to pop up around the country. Now, a growing list of artists, like Aiofe O’Donovan on October 20 and Carrie Newcomer with Over the Rhine on December 11, are requesting vaccine verification for anyone attending their shows.
“We’ve seen surges before. We’ve had to cancel events multiple times, but the difference now is the availability of a highly effective vaccine,” says Crismore. Several industry leaders including all Live Nation venues, the Paramount in Austin, and the Metro in Chicago have begun mandating vaccines for their concert-goers.
In addition to proof of vaccination, the theater will continue to require masks as long as Monroe County’s mask mandate is in effect.
Here is what patrons need to know:
- A COVID-19 vaccination OR a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours (2 days) will be required for all patrons 12 years old and older.
- Patrons must provide proof of vaccination in the form of a physical vaccination card, a photo of the card, or a verified app (i.e. Bindle) that must match with a photo ID. Final vaccine must be dated at least 14 days prior to show.
- A negative COVID-19 test receipt must be dated with a full name that matches a patron’s photo ID.
- Masks are required for all patrons when not eating or drinking in their seats.
Doors for shows will open 1 hour prior to showtime (30 minutes earlier than normal) to allow for time to make checks and practice social distancing in the auditorium.
BCT Management staff and volunteers are excited to have visitors in the theater again.
“To say we’ve been busy preparing for this season would be an understatement,” BCT Box Office Manager Paige Talbert explained as she described a quicker turnaround in preparing for upcoming events than she’d ever seen.
“At one point, we were announcing new shows every other day,” said Talbert.
BCT’s season includes shows from a blend of genres, including self-described “Queer Country” artist and rising Tik Tok star Kevin James Thornton, multi-platinum rock band Gin Blossoms, and everything in between.
A full line-up of the Fall 2021 BCT Presents season and all Buskirk-Chumley Theater’s upcoming events can be found at bctboxoffice.org.