Emory Nursing School Partners with Atlanta Performing Arts Companies to Develop Safe Reopening Plan

As we all struggle to figure out how COVID-19 has affected our lives, the nonprofit arts community of Atlanta has been particularly challenged. As a field, we have come together to support each other and ensure we are able to make our way through the crisis. After three months of shut down, theatres and performance halls are beginning to consider how and when to re-open and what kinds of safety precautions we can take for audiences, actors, staff, and backstage crew.

Actor’s Express has led a coalition of 18 arts organizations (including Dad's Garage) in creating a partnership with the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing at Emory University to evaluate and study performing arts operations. This evaluation will lead to the creation of a set of guidelines and suggestions on how to come back from this crisis safely and responsibly. The study's architects will release recommendations to the performing arts companies in August. The study will analyze data on how patrons, performers, and staff interact, and propose ways to safely return to work and performance as soon as is prudent. These plans will also take into account current statistics on new infections in the community, and define benchmarks for reopening.


After all 18 of the participating performing arts companies have completed the assessment tool, the project architects will analyze the data to create standard operating procedures for each area of operation, including front of house, performance, and backstage. These operating procedures can be applied across all the performing arts companies in the region. Then the DNP students will go one step further, issuing specific guidance to each participating performing arts company detailing how that individual company can adapt its workflows to mitigate the effects of COVID-19.

“Because every operation is different and each venue has a unique set of challenges, no one sweeping policy will work for everyone. Through this partnership as well as guidance from the CDC and Georgia DPH, we hope to find a set of guidelines all performance venues can put in place to reduce risk to audiences, artists, and crew, as well as specific action plans for each company participating in the study. ” -- Morgan Clark-Youngblood, DNP candidate at Emory School of Nursing

The final recommendations will be released to the performing arts companies in August; at which point the companies will begin implementing the recommendations to safely return to work as soon as is prudent, while simultaneously using the plans to engage with the performing arts unions and national performing arts community to create a standard of safety across all performance venues.

Participating Arts Companies (*denotes steering committee member)

7 Stages

Actor's Express*

The Alliance Theatre*

ART Station

Atlanta Lyric Theatre

Aurora Theatre

Center for Puppetry Arts

Dad's Garage*

Dance Canvas

Found Stages

Georgia Ensemble Theatre*

Horizon Theatre Company*

Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company*

Out Front Theatre Company*

Stage Door Players


Terminus Dance

Theatrical Outfit*


Daniel Geller DNP, MSN, FNP

Roxana Chicas Ph.D., RN

Rebecca Shasanmi Ellis, MPH, BSN, RN

Monica Donohue MN, RN

Kim Crawford, MPH, FNP

Sarah Febres-Cordero RN, BSN

Priscilla Hall Ph.D., CNM

About Dad’s Garage Theatre Company:

Founded in 1995, Dad's Garage Theatre Company has grown from a small volunteer led organization to a thriving mid-size theatre led by professional artistic and administrative staff that includes over 300 volunteers and performers. We now entertain more than 33,000 people each year in Atlanta, at public events across the state, and at improv festivals across the continent. In addition to outrageous original productions, Dad’s Garage produces improv shows year-round, educates young improvisers in a high school outreach program, and facilitates classes and workshops for the general public.

Our Mission:

Dad's Garage transforms people, communities, and perspectives through laughter.


Dad's Garage relies on financial support from several generous companies and organizations to keep producing scripted and improv comedy. Special thanks to Delta Air Lines, WarnerMedia, Mailchimp, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Fulton County Arts Council, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, Georgia Council for the Arts, and the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs for their support.

Dad's Garage Theatre Company

569 Ezzard Street SE

Atlanta, GA 30312

404.523.3141 ext. 201


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