Local performance venues start reopening after coronavirus shutdowns

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Venues across the country have been in a bind.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused places to close and performances to cancel while not stopping ongoing costs like rent.

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Some have had to close for good, but the ones locally enduring tough times are now seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

“When you’re a live performance venue and you cannot do live performances, yeah, it’s very challenging,” The Tivoli Theatre Foundation Executive Director Nick Wilkinson said.

For nearly seven months, “The Jewel of the South” has had no acts, no concerts and no performances.

The Tivoli Theatre closed its doors out of an abundance of caution to the coronavirus pandemic, but he shutdown has resulted in an estimated over 4 million dollar loss of ticket revenue.

“Like most venues, you know, it’s been very, financially difficult. We’ve had to make some tough decisions about staffing and some of those sorts of things as well. We’ve all taken pay cuts,” Wilkinson said.

Wilkinson told News 12 that they’ve spent the past several months investigating how to reopen safely.

Now, they’re planning on doing just that this week.

The theater will reopen with movies and a safe environment that includes limited capacity, 12 percent of what the theater can hold.

“There’s a lot of procedures and policies that we’ve got that will be in place, everything from temperature checks to masks wearing to much more limited menu for concessions,” Wilkinson said.

According to Wilkinson, concerts will likely happen at the theater starting in 2021.

He said it’s unlikely they’ll do much live events before then.

Like the Tivoli Theatre, The Signal has also been closed for months.

They shut things down six months ago and postponed over 50 shows.

“We weren’t going to do a show unless we could do it safely. So we want to make sure all people are comfortable, and we’re not going to put you in a situation that’s ultimately irresponsible,” The Signal Venue Manager Allison Ciccarelli said.

The signal is reopening with live music this Friday.

“The process is going to be mostly the same, but a little bit different. We wanted to make it safe, but not unenjoyable,” Ciccarelli said.

In addition to spacing, patrons will not be stamped at the entrance, there will be temperature checks at the front doors, and there is plexiglass at the bars.

“Everyone has assigned seating now. Actually, this entire room will be set up with tables and chairs, 6 feet apart in pods,” Ciccarelli said.

The Signal is reopening at 20 percent capacity or 250 people per show.

While there has been down time, both venues are excited to be reopening.

Tickets for movies at the Tivoli Theatre can be reserved and purchased online.

Tickets for The Signal live music events can also be purchased online.