Vaccines required to attend Kauffman Center performances, but not all on board

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Willingness to get a COVID-19 vaccine is one thing, but Pfizer’s full FDA approval also opens the door for expanded requirements, including more demands for proof of vaccination.

The Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts will have the requirement when in-person performance start Sept. 6. It’s the largest Kansas City entertainment venue to ask for vaccine proof so far.

Not only will visitors have to wear a mask, but they will also have to provide proof of vaccination. That’s the plan worked out by the three resident organizations: the Kansas City Ballet, the Kansas City Symphony and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

An obvious downside to the plan is that children under 12 years old cannot get vaccinated and, therefore, cannot provide vaccination proof, meaning, as it stands, they’re unable to attend performances like “The Nutcracker.”

The return of in-person shows comes after a virtual season for the Kauffman Center. But Jeffrey J. Bentley, executive director of the Kansas City Ballet Association, said the comeback will follow vaccination rules already happening at the New York City Ballet.

“So we weren’t first in the line, but we certainly didn’t want to be last in the line,” Bentley said.

Bentley hopes that in the near future COVID-19 vaccines will be approved for younger children or that COVID-19 case numbers drop off, reducing the need for their requirements.

He said customers can benefit from new flexibility in refunds.

“What we’re encouraging people to do right now is buy your tickets as if none of this has happened. And our refund policy now is you can turn in your ticket and refund your ticket the day of the show,” Bentley said.

“So if you bought a ticket for your family and one or some of your kids are under 12, you can, on the day before the show if we haven’t been able to change this policy, you call our box office, you get a refund. there’s no financial risk.”

But not everyone finds this acceptable.

Quinten Lovejoy of St. Joseph said he bought more than $1,000 worth of tickets for Kauffman Center events for his family. That was before this rule was made.

Now he said he’s willing to walk away from any business requiring proof of vaccine.

“Whether its government or private business, the net effect is still the ‘othering’ of people in America that either have not received the vaccine or frankly just don’t want to tell you whether they’ve had the vaccine. I wouldn’t tell you. I wouldn’t tell my mom. I wouldn’t tell anybody if I’ve had the vaccine,” Lovejoy said.

“So this isn’t just an impact on family tradition and what we’re going to do this holiday season – this is in perpetuity. We will never go back. If they move forward with this we’ll never go back,” he added.

Performers will not be masked while on stage but will be required to wear masks off stage.

Another conversation happening is about how performances that include children younger than 12 years old like “The Nutcracker” will adjust. Those questions still don’t have completely firm answers.

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