On November 5, 2021, the U.S. Labor Department, through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a rule to require employers with 100 or more employees to ensure each of their workers is fully vaccinated or tests negative for COVID at least once a week.  This rule covers 84 million employees and will be active starting January 4, 2022. For more information, see resources below.

Reopening Together

As we gear up for the reopening of Western New York’s arts and cultural sector, Arts Services Inc. will be presenting a new series, Reopening Together, throughout the month of June. Join us for this free weekly series to discuss guidelines and share ideas on how we—as a community—can successfully and safely reopen our creative industry. The sessions took place virtually on Tuesdays in June 2020 at 1 PM. You can find a list of the sessions below, as well as links to various documents and websites with more information. Session topics may be altered depending on need and questions that arise. Additional sessions may also be added. Check back for updates. Note: ASI cannot provide legal advice. These programs are intended to be educational and to inform you of resources that are available to you. The guidelines for reopening are set by New York State and are being constantly updated. 

Updated Guidelines April 2021

Large Scale Performing Arts & Entertainment Small to Medium Scale Performing Arts & Entertainment

Erie County Department of Health – Large Event Notification Form

All Erie County based organizations planning an event that exceeds gathering limits (250 indoor and 500 outdoor) must submit their large event notification form at least 10 days prior to your event.


NYS Excelsior Pass
New York State will be launching Excelsior Pass, a tool that allows New Yorkers and visitors to securely present proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results.  This unique app provides venues and patrons with a secure method to easily present, scan and confirm test and vaccine information to ensure convenient event flow-through. Click here to visit the NYS Excelsior Pass website or click here to view NYSCA Presents’ update on this program.

National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response

National Federation of State High School Association – Commissioned COVID-19 Study on Produced Aerosol Rates for Music and Theatre

NY Small Business Development Center’s Reopening and Recovery Checklist

NYS HERO Act’s Airborne Infectious Disease Prevention Policy – Goes into effect June 4, 2021 for organizations with 10 more employees.

Safe In Sound: Reopening Checklist for Live Entertainment Industry


New York State Guidance and Resources

New York Forward website

Office Guidance

Arts & Entertainment Industry Guidance – arts, entertainment, sports, and recreation

Reopening Safety Plan Template

NYSCA Presents – webinar series on various nonprofit topics

NYSCA’s Reopening and Recovery Resources


Visit Buffalo Niagara

Buffalo Cares! Stay Safe Pledge


Buffalo Niagara Partnership

Keep Buffalo Niagara Working: A Guide to Reopening Your Business

BNP’s NYS Reopening Guidelines: HR and Legal Implications

Employee Health Screening Form template

Employee Health Screening Questionnaire template

Hurwitz & Fine COVID-19 Resources


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Guidance for Gatherings and Events

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Reopening America Guidance


Chautauqua County

Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency


City of Buffalo

Reopen Buffalo

Small Business Social Distancing Exterior Premises Use Application


Erie County

Business Report Form for employees who test positive for COVID-19.

Erie County Department of Health – Large Event Notification Form for events exceeding the state’s gathering limits.


National Endowment for the Arts

The Road Forward: Re-engaging with Audiences and Visitors


Niagara County

Niagara County Center for Economic Development

Niagara County Department of Health

NCCC Small Business Development Center


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)

OSHA COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing ETS

OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workspaces for COVID-19

OSHA COVID-19 Website

National Council for Occupational Safety and Health’s Safe and Just Return to Work


Cleaning and Disinfection Guidance

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Disinfectants

IAAPA Global Attractions Industry

New York State Department of Health Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfection Public and Private Facilities


Resources for PPE and Cleaning and Disinfecting

ECIDA PPE Reimbursement Grants – for Erie County organizations based in highly distressed areas

NanoSeptic Self-Cleaning Surfaces

The Partnership Center – Free Face Coverings

Range Brokers International – PPE Product Catalog

ServiceMasters – Cleaning and Disinfecting Services

WNY Covid-19 Community Response Fund through VIA – PPE product orders (contact them for next order date)

Past Sessions

Tuesday, June 2: WNY Arts vs. COVID-19

1:00 – 2:00 PM Overview of state guidelines, regulations, and requirements as assumed at this point. Full group webinar led by ASI’s Executive Director, Jennifer Swan-Kilpatrick, and Grants & Programming Director, Holly Grant, with guest speakers Dave Swarts (Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens) and Marisa Wigglesworth (Buffalo Museum of Science), who will speak on the measures and planning for safety and comfort of staff and patrons that they are planning. For more information on New York State’s reopening and the guidelines for each phase, visit forward.ny.gov. Click here to download a pdf of the presentation slides. Click here to watch a recording of the presentation.

Tuesday, June 9: Different Boats, Same Storm

This week will feature breakout discussions addressing specific challenges based on art forms and services provided. Two sessions will run concurrently during each time slot. Please contact Holly Grant at [email protected] if you would like to view the recording from any of these discussions. 1:00 – 2:30 PM Performing Arts and Literary Arts   |  Museums, Galleries, and Media Arts 2:45 – 3:45 PM Outdoor Festivals and Events | Individual Artists 4:00 – 5:00 PM Workshops and Classes | Organizations that don’t own their own venue and/or rent other venues

Tuesday, June 16: Catching Back Up

1:00 – 2:30 PM Full group recap presentation addressing some of the questions that arose in previous weeks. We are excited to invite Phil Stokes, Executive Director at Penn Dixie Fossil Park and Nature Reserve, Joy Testa Cinquino from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, and Les Greenbaum, intellectual property attorney at Gross Shuman P.C., to join our presentation and address some of the questions that arose in the previous week. Materials from presentation: Click here to view the recording from this presentation. Click here to download the presentation from Penn Dixie. Click here to download the presentation from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. Click here to download the presentation from Les Greenbaum on copyright. Additional Resources based on the conversations: NYS Executive Order authorizing businesses to deny entry to visitors who don’t wear a mask. NYC Health’s FAQ’s sheet on NYS’s face covering law Guidance from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for employees. ASCAP Guide to Using Copyrighted Music

Tuesday, June 23: Going Forward—Together

1:00 – 2:00 PM ASI will reveal its WNY arts and culture communications plan and the results from its WNY Patron Intent Survey. ASI will address unanswered questions and roll out the sector-wide communications plan around reopening with unified safety plans and policies. Click here to download an overview of the WNY Patron Intent Survey Results. Click here to download a PDF of the powerpoint presentation. Click here to view the recording of the presentation.

Thursday, June 25: A Conversation with Choral & Singing Ensembles

2:00 – 3:00 PM The performing arts face some unique challenges in reopening as the practice of these art forms often rely on multiple people being in close proximity. We are inviting all choral and singing ensembles (including opera and musical theatre) to join us for a singing-specific conversation about the challenges and realities of reopening in the fall.  We will be joined by Adam Luebke and Angela Goldberg of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus who will share their research and plans for moving forward. Click here to view a recording of the discussion. Click here to download a PDF of the powerpoint presentation. You can find additional materials about this topic below.

Wednesday, July 29: Conflict Resolution

1:00 – 2:00 PM Guest speaker Arthur Wheaton from The Worker Institute at Cornell University will lead a discussion around how to navigate new safety measures and mandates, such as mask wearing and extra sanitation, and how to handle audiences and/or guests who may not want to follow the new regulations. This workshop is presented in coordination with the Western New York Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNYCOSH). Click here to download Cornell University’s Conflict Resolution Skills in the Workplace Click here to download WNYCOSH’s Conflict Resolution

Wednesday, October 14: Storygrowing WNY

12:00 – 1:00 PM Storygrowing WNY is an initiative of Health Foundation for Western and Central New York and The John R. Oishei Foundation designed to help nonprofits in WNY harness the power of storytelling and nurture your organization’s growth through effective communications training. This session will feature Andy Goodman, nationally acclaimed storyteller, author and speaker, for “Telling Our Stories Now.” The free virtual event will feature updated content and lessons gleaned over the past few months and is open to all nonprofits in Western New York. Click here to register.

Tuesday, December 8: Industry Check In

1:00 – 2:30 PM December will mark 9 months since the initial shut down due to COVID. While we’ve been in contact with many of you, we want to gather the industry together again to check in with everyone and each other. How have you adapted your work and programming, what struggles are you continuing to face, what new struggles have come up, and how have you found success? This will be an open, full group conversation. Come prepared to share. This discussion was not recorded.