The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Ford’s Theatre, both examples of public/private partnerships in the nation’s capital, will be joining performing arts venues in the Washington, D.C. region and around the country, to provide a safer return to full-capacity, indoor performances this fall by requiring that all audience members be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The new policy also includes a vaccine mandate for all artists, staff, ushers, and volunteers. Specific guidance and protocols can be found on the organizations’ respective websites.
“Our audiences have stuck by us with great solidarity over these last many months,” said Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter. “As we welcome them back to the Kennedy Center and enjoy live performances once again, it is also our duty to ensure our patrons’ health and security, as well as the safety of our performers and staff. Working together we can get back to what we love—the arts—but we must reopen cautiously and responsibly. These new measures will reduce risk and help all arts venues maintain the forward momentum we are feeling right now.”
“We have longed for the day we can safely gather again to create art, and to draw in our audiences with visceral, thought-provoking and dazzling moments of live performance,” stated Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault. “These requirements for vaccination and masking are an added assurance of our commitment to the safety and wellness of our theater patrons—necessary temporary measures to protect our community from contracting and spreading COVID-19.”
Beginning September 1, 2021, patrons must show a government-issued photo ID and proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 to attend all indoor performances and events at the Kennedy Center and Ford’s Theatre. Masking will continue to be required inside regardless of vaccination status, except while eating and drinking in authorized areas.
Audience members may display proof of vaccine on a smartphone or by showing a physical copy of the vaccination card or official vaccination record. “Fully vaccinated” means that 14 days have passed since either the second shot of a CDC or WHO-approved two-shot vaccine or since the administration of a CDC or WHO-approved one-shot vaccine. Exceptions will be made for those who are under 12 years of age or for patrons with a medical condition or closely-held religious belief that prevents vaccination. Those patrons must instead provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Acceptable types and timeframe for negative COVID-19 tests are posted on each venue’s website. Performance ticket holders who do not comply with these policies will not be admitted.
Acceptable forms of government-issued photo IDs include driver’s licenses and passports. Patrons younger than 18 may present a school photo ID. Those under 12 must be accompanied by an adult who meets the above requirements.
Vaccination requirements do not apply to daytime visitors at the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site nor for Kennedy Center visitors in limited public areas including the Hall of States, Hall of Nations, Grand Foyer, the REACH, or outdoor spaces.
The Kennedy Center plans to reevaluate its vaccine and masking policy on a monthly basis and as conditions and trusted medical guidance evolve. The Ford’s Theatre vaccination policy is valid through October 31, 2021. Ford’s actively monitors local health and safety conditions and reserves the right to extend the vaccination requirement policy based on local conditions and guidance from its medical advisors and partners.