Roadmap for Recovery and Resilience for Theater

Roadmap for Recovery and Resilience for Theater

A Collaboration Between the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University and the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

For theaters around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in existential uncertainty about our future. In response to this crisis, the A.R.T. and the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health have collaborated to create this roadmap, which first launched on May 27, 2020. As we look to recovery, we see an opportunity for a necessary reset and reimagining. The A.R.T. is making an ongoing commitment to public health in our practice and programming. Racism in America is a public health crisis, and a central part of the A.R.T.’s recovery from the pandemic is becoming an anti-racist and anti-oppressive organization.

As we enter 2021, we have begun to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccine rollout is underway, there have been breakthroughs in therapeutics and testing, and the new administration has assembled a top team of medical and public health experts. We always knew, however, that this winter would be difficult. As expected, cases have risen, and new, more contagious variants of the virus are spreading around the world. The simple actions we can all take every day—masking, social distancing, limiting social circles, improving ventilation indoors—matter now more than ever and are having a major impact. We have agency.

This “Third Edition” of our roadmap, dated February 1, 2021 features extensive updates to our Facilities and Developments to Watch sections, as well as a sharing of work undertaken by the A.R.T. over the past six months in our Rehearsal and Production and Pivoting to Models That Are New or Different sections. Following the Guiding Principles in this roadmap, we will pursue a phased approach to reopening, including an outdoor summer experience at the Arnold Arboretum and an end goal of welcoming audiences back into A.R.T.’s theaters.

— Joseph Allen, Director of the Healthy Buildings Program
— Diane Paulus, A.R.T. Terrie and Bradley Bloom Artistic Director


Contact Us

We know theaters around the world are working on the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and are eager to discuss strategies and insights as our industry plots a path forward. If you would like to share how your organization is planning for recovery and resilience, please contact us at

Healthy Buildings

This roadmap is provided for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as a set of directions. Please see About the Use of This Resource for further explanation.

Above, Mandy Patinkin and Taylor Mac in The Last Two People on Earth: An Apocalyptic Vaudeville: Gretjen Helene Photography.