New Union Rules Provide A Glimpse Into The Future Of Our New Normal

Recently, Joe Patti published an article at ArtsHacker that examines a COVID-19 reopening guide from the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), the union which has members working in performing arts venues, convention centers, movies, and television productions.

If you work in an environment that employs IATSE members, it is worth reviewing the guidelines to get a sense of what the union expects working conditions to look like. Granted, these specific rules will be more applicable to opera organizations than orchestras, but it’s still an excellent example of how stakeholders are accepting the new normal and adapting.

One of the more interesting segments is about shared wardrobe spaces:

  • For example, a small group of performers and dressers can be formed as a “work team” to limit their exposure.
  • Dressers should not “float” through the entire cast.
  • Performers should be instructed to dispose of used tissues, lozenges, etc. in trash receptacles, rather than handing them to dressers and guardians
  • Performers may not be able to wear face masks or PPE in costume. Workers in close proximity to actors without face masks shall wear a properly fitted N95 face mask and face shield at all times and perform hand hygiene before and after the encounter.
  • No one should enter a workspace while Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists are working with an Actor
  • Mix foundation, powders, lipstick, etc on a separate clean palette for each individual

You Can’t Just Let People Tear Your Clothes Off Anymore


About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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