Live event venues want guidance to reopen in Oregon


Venue operators reached out to Gov. Brown

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Schools are re-opened. Restaurants can have increased capacity. Gyms are open, with restrictions.

But people who work in Oregon’s live events industry feel they’re being ignored by the state when it comes to re-opening.

A group of venue operators and live events companies sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown and OHA asking for safety guidelines to prepare for re-opening — but they say they haven’t received any feedback.

For the past 30 years, Amanda Stark has worked in the live events industry, landing the executive director position at the Old Church Concert Hall 11 years ago.

“It’s just been a dream job,” she said “We were really this beacon of light on the corner of Clay and 11th, gluing that neighborhood together with the nightlife.”

But the past year has been more like a nightmare.

“We were told March 12, 2020, ‘You’re the highest risk industry. You will not open until there’s a cure or a vaccine,'” Stark said.

“The issue with that is you don’t just turn on a dime and advertise a show that is going to happen tomorrow. It takes months,” she said. “We book shows a year in advance, sometimes.”

In counties considered in the Moderate Risk level, indoor venues can operate at 50% capacity. Stark said most venues are choosing to not book shows right now. She said they need more guidance from the state.

“What does opening at 50% look like? Can we all sit together?” she said. “There’s no real guidance.”

She and the group are hoping the state will provide safety guidelines so venues can begin preparing for the day they can fully re-open.

“There’s guidance for salons, there’s guidance for bars, restaurants, schools. Where’s the guidance for venues?” she said. “To be overlooked, to have the entertainment industry of Oregon overlooked in this way, it feels dismissive.”

“And it feels like the state doesn’t understand how significant music and live entertainment is to Oregon.”

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