COVID-19 Operating Guidelines for the Arts & Culture Industry

The Connecticut Office of the Arts, in partnership with CAA and our state’s nine Designated Regional Services Organizations, has developed COVID-19 Operating Guidelines for Connecticut’s Arts & Culture industry.

“This document is designed to aid organizations as they plan to reopen in accordance with the guidelines of both state and federal government, and it presents information that is currently recommended and/or mandated as of the date of issuance. Please note that this is a working document that will regularly be updated to reflect changes in state and federal guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Impact Update

In response to the pandemic crisis and its economic impact, CAA continues to gather resources, data, and information for and about our statewide arts and culture community. When the time comes, we stand ready to assist in the reopening and rebuilding of arts organizations and the well-being of individual artists. We also have recommendations for funders, donors, and audience who share our hope to see the arts survive and thrive.

For PDF version the graphic below, please click here.

Video and Resources from Arts Community Meeting

On April 7, CAA hosted an Arts Community Meeting with guest speaker Liz Shapiro, State Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums, within the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD). Over two hundred arts administrators, artists, and advocates participated on Zoom and Facebook Live!

In addition to updates about programs and resources available through the Office of the Arts, Liz spoke about eligibility for Federal and State relief, including small business loans, unemployment benefits, and NEA funding. Liz also had words of support and encouragement for the cultural community:

Our thanks to everyone who attended and to those who submitted some excellent questions and comments for Liz to address.

If you’d like to re-watch or were not able to attend, you can click here to watch a video of the Zoom meeting through Facebook. (A Facebook account is not required.)

For links to additional resources during this public health and financial crisis, please visit the COVID-19 Response and Resource List on the CAA website.

COVID-19 Resources

Data and resources available are changing rapidly during this time of crisis, so we’re providing links to governmental and organizational websites that are collecting information of interest to the cultural community.

The State of Connecticut has complied a website of information on COVID-19 and has published a document of Frequently Asked Questions on the State’s Actions Related to COVID-19 . Of particular interest to artists and art organizations may be sections on unemployment (including the Shared Work Program which supplements employees’ pay when their hours are reduced ) and assistance for small businesses and nonprofits. Note that nonprofits are eligible for low-interest Small Business Association loans.

The Connecticut Office of the Arts has also assembled an extensive list of COVID-19 Resources, including reopening guidelines and links to resource pages from Regional Service Organizations.

Reopening Guidelines for the Arts

Among other resources from the Regional Service Organizations, Shoreline Arts Alliance has hosted a series of webinars on Reopening Arts Venues with Science-Based Safety presented by professionals from the Yale School of Public Health.

The Alliance, a membership organization for Connecticut nonprofits, has published a COVID-19 Response Resource Center collecting links to Federal and State agency resources.

The Connecticut Council for Philanthropy has also collected Coronavirus Resources for Funders and Nonprofits.

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) has a Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource and Response Center. AFTA provides one of the best sites for national information for our creative sector, including up-to-date news and links.

The New England Foundation for the Arts has also compiled a webpage of resources and links for artists and cultural organizations.

Finally, COVID-19 & Freelance Artists is one of the most comprehensive websites of resources we’ve found for individual and freelance artists.

If you’ve found other resources you’d like to share, please email links to

We may be socially distant, but we’re culturally connected, and sustaining each other and our arts and culture community is our top priority now.

Preparing for the Potential Impact of a Pandemic

The following article is shared with permission from ArtsReady, a national initiative of South Arts in Atlanta, Georgia. ArtsReady provides an online emergency preparedness service by and for arts and cultural nonprofits, and it provides arts organizations with customized business continuity plans for post-crisis sustainability.

While the Coronavirus is not widespread in North America, we at CAA do encourage preparedness for epidemics and other emergencies and crises. This is an excellent time to take stock of your own organizational policies and procedures. Please review the following information and suggestions, and adjust them as necessary to the scale and operations of your own organization.

Visit for the latest information and to sign up as a Free Member to receive future updates.

Are you ready for a temporary closure? 

In Asia and Europe, public gatherings including performances, museums and festivals have been cancelled and shuttered to help limit the spread of the Coronavirus. Coronavirus Outbreak Shutters Italian Museums; Event Cancellations Continue in China and South Korea.

While the spread and impact of the virus here in the United States is not yet known, arts organizations should have a plan in the event that, in the interest of public health, your organization needs to delay or cancel events or temporarily close.

Preparing Your Facility Now 

Put hand-sanitizing stations (or additional stations) in lobbies, theater spaces and bathrooms, and make wipes available for people to use on armrests if the surface is wood or metal. 

If you do need to temporarily close, refer to What to Take When you Evacuate. This checklist suggests what your staff should plan to take with them if you must leave your facility on short notice, to be able to continue to work and communicate. 

Ensure you have an up-to-date facility shut-down protocol. Individuals should be aware of their specific responsibilities and processes, including data backup, safe shutdown of IT and other equipment; securing/protecting any assets that require regular attention or are of value (including cash, blank checks, and sensitive artwork); and have a clear protocol to sweep the facility and ensure everyone is out before locking it down.  

Supporting Your Staff and Volunteers 

Inform all staff and volunteers to limit contact with audience members. Look at the tickets rather than taking them and handing them back. Review cancellation and work stoppage policies with staff during a special meeting.

Stay updated on the status in your local area. Identify your local and regional health department personnel and websites to make sure you have the most up-to-date knowledge of the spread of the disease locally. From Heather Noonan at the League of American Orchestras: 

Communicating with Audiences and Stakeholders

Make sure you have a current and clear event cancellation policy.

  • Will you refund tickets, reschedule, or not? Does everyone on staff know your policy? How will you be in touch with your audience? Here’s advice from NCAPER’s Executive Director Jan Newcomb: “Review your ticket refund policy and resend it to all your patrons – you may decide to give credit to people who cancel up to 2 days before their ticketed performance.  You may want to extend that policy to include all other performances during a limited time frame so that sick people stay home.  You should prepare a financial impact statement before you do so, so you know your liability.” 
  • Review all performance contracts to understand your financial liability if you decide to cancel performances. Prepare a financial liability statement for the board.