An Update from the New Dramatists Board Reopening Committee

The library awaits our return.  Photo by Executive Director Joel Ruark, taken on a recent visit to the building.

Dear Friends of New Dramatists,

We’re writing with an update about our continued monitoring of Covid-19 pandemic concerns, which is keeping our beloved Church building closed for the time being. We are elated by the news of multiple effective vaccines and increased vaccine supply. President Biden’s assertion that we may start to find moments of much-needed personal relief in the summertime – if Americans continue to be careful and practice effective mitigation – makes us truly hopeful. We’re also very aware, however, of the troubling news that virus variants are quickly spreading in the US, including one specific to the New York City area, which seems to be more contagious, and scientists fear it may be partially resistant to current vaccine protection. President Biden’s stated hope for a gradual return to a little more normalcy, largely relates to our private lives and is reliant upon the vast majority of Americans continuing to practice effective mitigation. The issues that face us, as we chart the course for New Dramatists as a workplace and employer, remain quite complex. We do not know for certain what our 2021 operating liability insurance will look like, but we’ve received enough initial guidance to expect that communicable disease exclusion riders will remain in place. In the coming weeks, it’s also expected that OSHA will issue emergency Covid-19 workplace standards, which will add new Covid-19 regulations for workplaces like ours. The CDC’s mitigation guidelines are still quite robust and specific about the risk of contracting Covid-19 from indoor spaces. And, it’s unfortunately still the case that our lovely, unventilated building with no HVAC system, remains classified as a high-risk indoor space for any size gathering or daily work. Given all these factors, while we cheer on the daily announcements of positive news, we are not yet at a point when we can begin to plan a building reopening. In some ways, this spring is one of the most difficult periods we’ve weathered yet. We’re all pandemic-weary; we deeply miss those fortuitous in-person library meetings prior to a ND reading, that invariably were the highlight of our New York workdays. While it is not the same as gathering in the Seth Gelblum Theatre to immerse​ ourselves in the creative visions of our writers and collaborators, we applaud the ways our playwrights and affiliated artists are exploring their work and sustaining peer to peer relationships and community engagement in the digital sphere. They are a true testament to this community’s drive and vitality, and harken back to the spirit of that group of playwrights who forged New Dramatists in 1949. Likewise, we’re very grateful for the stalwart staff at New Dramatists, who continue to innovate ways to provide virtual support to the current resident playwright and alumni companies. 

On behalf of the Reopening Committee and the full Board of Directors, we continue to wish you well, and like you, we’re carrying on in our efforts to keep our families and communities safe.

Sincerely,

Abbie Van Nostrand                                     
Board President                                           
Reopening Subcommittee Chair           

Mark D’Ambrosi  
Treasurer
Finance/Personnel Committee Chair