COVID 19 Health and Safety for Artists

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Resources for producing and rehearsing safely

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and shift, we must keep the safety of our collaborators and audiences top of mind. Especially those that are in vulnerable populations (Ex: elderly or immonocompromised). Creating theatre during the time of COVID presents new difficulties and challenges, requiring all of us to get creative and innovative with the ways we rehearse and present theatre.Even as most businesses have removed most of their COVID precautions, it is important to keep up with the latest governmental and public health regulations and guidelines: 


Producing during COVID-19

It is vital that artists, producers, presenters and arts organizations continue to be in conversation with their teams and community about COVID-19. We’ve created a list of considerations to accompany your local region’s public health guidelines to help guide your planning process. Keep in mind that even as pandemic restrictions ease, members of your team or their loved ones may still be at high risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Before you begin rehearsals:

  • Creative Team Consultation: Ensuring COVID safety will be a team effort. Consider developing your protocols and procedures with input from everyone. Each of your team members are experts in their respective fields and have knowledge and experience to help ensure nothing important is overlooked. Consulting the team about their concerns and comfort levels is an important step that should be taken at the start of the planning process.
  • COVID-19 Plan: Even as the pandemic continually shifts, any in-person activity will involve some risk. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect a worker. All employers are encouraged to develop a COVID-19 workplace safety plan and to review and update it regularly. 
  • Artist Feedback: Address any concerns that the artists may have by giving them time for feedback on your COVID protocols and procedures. This can be done as a separate meeting or perhaps at the very first team meeting. An important part of producing is making artists feel as safe as possible so they can fully comfortably engage in the work.
  • Cultural Practices: Take the time to have broader discussions about what is needed to safely accommodate cultural practices or customs. You may wish to include artists and the whole creative team in these discussions.
  • Venue: When preparing for a venue, consider that most venues have their own COVID-19 related protocols and procedures (of lack there of) that will have to be taken into account. This may affect the capacity, technical abilities, and amount of space available for rehearsal or production. 
  • Contingency Plan: Building a contingency plan will help anticipate and troubleshoot potential COVID-related issues. A COVID-contingency plan could extend to contracting flexibility, changes in venue, changes from in-person to digital rehearsal, casting changes, cancelling or postponing the process, someone on your team contracting COVID, and any changes in governmental regulations which might pose new barriers for your plans. It is worth exploring having a plan for a potential illness.
  • Accessibility: Consider the ways in which you can address accessibility in the planning and production of your project, workshop, or presentation. Live captioning, transcription, and audio description are services that can be applied to in-person, distanced and online performances. Check out our page on Accessible Websites, Graphics, Videos and Documents and Accessible Performances for more information.
  • Budget: Specific things worth keeping an eye out for in your budget: potential gross box office, personal protective equipment, sanitization supplies, rehearsal equipment to ensure safe practices, equipment needed for streaming, costs to enact contingency plans, transportation, and caregiving costs. If you already have a budget, it’s worth reviewing and making necessary changes. 
  • Production Meetings: Set aside a time during each production meeting to address things that might be affected or changed by COVID. If your production meetings are bi-monthly, you may want to add a weekly check-in to keep on top of responding to the virus.


Procedures and protocols for rehearsals

How you conduct rehearsals must first and foremost be governed by your local authorities’ public health rules and restrictions. Below is a list of procedures and protocols that artist producers across Canada have applied to their rehearsal process. Use them as inspiration, or a jumping off point, in conjunction with your local public health authorities’ recommendations, in order to create a safe working space.

  • Daily check-ins: Protocols change and peoples’ level of comfort and consent will change too. This can also be an opportunity to check in on mental/physical health. It is worth considering establishing a regular time to check in with the cast and creative team. This can either be something you do as a group or perhaps in a buddy system.
  • Communication: Another important aid to mental health is open communication, especially when it comes to safety boundaries. This will help to alleviate mental stress and anxiety. This can sound like, “Would you mind stepping back a foot? I'm feeling you're a bit too close to me.” Or even simply, “Your mask is slipping off your nose.”
  • Rapid Testing: Some provinces and municipalities are providing free rapid tests to businesses. You may consider performing rapid testing throughout your rehearsal process to ensure your team’s safety and peace of mind. Make sure you are checking local reporting and disposal requirements related to these tests.
  • Adapt for digital creative collaboration: You may choose to work online rather than in person, due to public health rules and restrictions, but working online is not the same as working in person. Answers & Offers: A Field Guide to Creative Collaboration in Digital Spaces contains great tools and strategies for adapting your creative process to meet the needs of your project, and the capacities of the folks you are working/playing/making with. Some subjects include countering zoom fatigue (many have reported that rehearsing over video conferencing software can lead to exhaustion after shorter periods of time than in-person rehearsals) and relationship-building in a digital space.
  • Socially Distanced Grids: If your team prefers to work while maintaining social distancing, you can tape out 6 metre x 6 metre squares. Whenever you are in the playing area, you can see if you are a safe distance from others.
  • PPE station: Personal protective equipment is extremely important to combating COVID-19, but sometimes people can forget or not have access to their own. Making PPE available to your team is an important safety net. It is a standard for people to wear 3-layer masks when possible and especially in spaces with other people. N95 and KN95 masks are highly recommended.
  • Hand sanitizing stations: Making hand sanitizer easily accessible has proven to increase its use. Have several stations around the rehearsal room, not just at the entrances
  • COVID symptoms in rehearsal: Determine guidelines about the physical condition required for team members to attend a rehearsal or performance in person.You may wish to discuss these scenarios with the entire team to ensure their comfort and safety in the room. Be as clear as possible: e.g. if someone is experiencing a cough or sore throat, they must stay home until they have no symptoms. You may choose to make alternative methods of participation available (e.g. via Zoom) in such an instance. It is recommended to ensure your contracts are clear about plans for payment and/or completion of work in the case of someone becoming symptomatic and/or testing positive.
  • What if someone tests positive?: If you are producing a project, you must have a plan for if someone tests positive for COVID. If you are rehearsing in person, it is your responsibility as the producer to contact anyone who has come in contact with the infected person. These people should get tested immediately and follow self-isolation procedures until they receive a negative test result.


National resources:




  • Toronto Arts Council (TAC) COVID-19 Updates Page: Most up-to-date information form the TAC for grant recipients and artists residing in the GTA, including a list of prior public releases and assembled resources.
  • TAPA COVID-19 Resources: TAPA is updating this page with all public notices from Toronto Public Health (TPH). They also have a list of resources for TAPA members including action plans, sample communications and event guidance.






Newfoundland & Labrador-specific:




Resources for artists working in the Canadian performing arts sector

Taking care of your health is a top priority, and especially managing the stress and mental anguish that comes along with COVID is important to building a rehearsal and performance experience that takes care of everyone involved.

  • Check out our Health Care, Self-care for Artists, and our Mental Health page for resources related to accessing care. We've added lots of free, online resources for exercising, meditation and accessing mental health support remotely during this time.
  • COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources is an aggregated list of free resources, opportunities, and financial relief options available to artists of all disciplines.
  • Principles for Ethical Cancellation discusses ways in which freelance artists can help sustain our vital creative community, created by Springboard for the Arts.
  • Theatre Resources for Isolation is a Google doc originating in the UK that has links to play databases, YouTube channels with recorded performances, interviews, panels and all sorts of resources to keep you occupied during this time.
  • Artists in Residence is a new platform which supports artists' mental health and well-being by providing opportunities for collaboration, discussion, and creativity. It aims to develop a network for artists to connect with new collaborators; foster and develop new work; engage as a community around social, political, and cultural events impacting the performing arts, and spread awareness of mental-health resources specific to artists.
  • Artscape Daniels Launchpad is providing free online workshops and classes on a variety of topics, including money, grant writing, mindfulness and pilates.


Templates and downloads

  • Safe In Sound: National re-opening checklist for the live entertainment industry (preview below) is a free reopening checklist for the live entertainment industry. This toolkit was developed after consultation with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and based on the most up-to-date guidance and resources available at CDC's Guidance for COVID-19 (posted May 21 2021).



Have resources to share/add? Submit them via this form. 


Created by kpalm. Last Modification: Thursday September 14, 2023 09:44:56 EDT by pallison.