CEDAR RAPIDS — The rules aren’t relaxing at the event sites managed by VenuWorks of Cedar Rapids.
Mask mandates, rigorous cleaning protocols, social distancing among patrons moving through the halls, and seating sold in pods to facilitate physical distancing are continuing at the Alliant Energy PowerHouse and the Paramount Theatre, which have shows in the coming days.
Upon hearing that Gov. Kim Reynolds would be lifting restrictions on public gatherings and mask-wearing, Michael Silva, executive director for VenuWorks of Cedar Rapids, knew that wouldn’t change anything on the local scene he manages.
“I knew that we wouldn’t be able to stop our mandates,” he said. “Plain and simple, it doesn’t really matter. Because we host ticketed events, we set the rules of what happens in our house, so the release of the mandates really didn’t affect us at all.”
With comedian Donnie Baker at the Paramount Theatre on Saturday night and the country award-winning Eli Young Band at the PowerHouse on March 24, as well as other acts on the books, nothing is changing.
“We are going forward, business as usual,” Silva said.
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“VenuWorks manages four entertainment venues owned by the city of Cedar Rapids, and Mayor Hart made it pretty clear yesterday or the day before that masks and social distancing are still what they want for the city, so we are operating as we (have) since we reopened back in July.”
The rules are noted on the Return to Live page online at creventslive.com/p/plan-your-visit1/returntolive.
Silva said the booking staff is seeking events to bring to town this spring and beyond, and they’re holding spaces open for the end of 2021 and beginning of 2022, when they’re hearing some of the bigger acts are looking to return to the road.
“A lot of the big tours with four, five or six buses on the road aren’t out yet,” he noted. “We got lucky with Eli Young.”
In the meantime, VenuWorks needs to keep scheduling shows to keep the doors open and pay the bills, he said. So far, it hasn’t had pushback from patrons, regarding the safety protocols.
“People are hungry for entertainment,” Silva said, “and what we get most of is the people that are attending our events are grateful that we are able to do anything at all, even in a limited capacity. There’s always going to be a small minority of people that want to do things their own way, and frankly, when they’re not able to uphold the rules, we ask them to leave.”
Keeping safety first is the key toward building trust in the weeks and months ahead.
“Most of all, we just want everyone coming to Eli Young to still feel safe,” Silva said, “because if we lose the consumer confidence, it’ll have longer-lasting implications. We need the people to feel safe so they’ll come to events.”
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