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Pabst Theater Group CEO On Requiring Proof Of Vaccination, Negative Test To Attend Shows

Riverside Theater
Teran Powell
The Riverside Theater's marquee reads "Get Vaccinated... Please."

The Pabst Theater Group will be requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test before attending one of their events starting in September. Summerfest made a similar announcement in an effort to protect employees, attendees and the performers.

The Pabst Theater Group is also among a large group of Milwaukee businesses that are encouraging people to get vaccinated. Gary Witt is the CEO of the Pabst Theater Group, and explains his group's decision: "We were closed for 17 months and we want to do everything in our power to never experience a devastating shutdown like that ever again."

Witt says so far feedback has been overwhelming positive. He points out that most concertgoers are use to providing some form of identification, so a vaccination card isn't too different.

The venue, Witt says, sends out an email alerting customers what they need to bring to attend a show. "I have to say about 95 to 97% of people who were at the front doors showed up vaccinated, not with a proof of recent test. The only people who didn't were people who had apparently forgotten their vaccination cards," he says. "And they simply walked across the street to a facility that we had set up, and they had a test taken and were proved to be negative."

Artists have been willing to follow the new regulations as well. "Most artists generate anywhere from 80 to 90% of their revenue from touring and being on the road. ... Artists really want to stay, they want to be on the road, they're being very careful. They've lived as we did for 17 months out of the business, so they definitely want to be on the road," Witt states.

The Pabst Theater Group and other businesses, like Summerfest and Cactus Club, worked closely with Gov. Tony Evers to gain control of their businesses's futures, Witt says. He acknowledges,"It's quite possible that this is very much like the flu. It's likely going to be around for a while, but we can adapt to it, and we can manage it so that we can live our lives as safely as possible, we could protect those who aren't eligible or able to be vaccinated."

Mallory Cheng joined WUWM as a producer for Lake Effect in 2021.
Kobe Brown is WUWM's Eric Von fellow.
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