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A Statement on the City of Philadelphia’s Decision to Reopen Museums and Cultural Institutions Effective January 4, 2021



While no one argues with the City of Philadelphia’s desire to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic, its decision to close museums and libraries and prohibit “all indoor gatherings and events involving people from more than one household” through January 1, 2021, will threaten arts and culture even more than the initial COVID-19 shutdown of the spring.  Without full understanding of the painful economic and social impact that a continuing shutdown of arts and culture will have on the Philadelphia region, we are left to brace for a winter of mandated darkness, without a single word or discussion of immediate economic relief for arts and culture.



The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance commends the Kenney Administration for its decision to allow museums and cultural institutions to reopen beginning on Monday, January 4, 2021. Although these past weeks of mandated closure have had a painful economic and social impact on our city and the arts and culture community, this news is a much-needed boost for our weary sector.  

While we understand this decision is contingent on the state as well as the ability to meet density requirements, we believe it is reflective of the City’s understanding of the significant work undertaken by arts and cultural organizations to safely reopen last fall and the extraordinary steps taken to ensure social distancing, proper air intake and filtration as well as contactless experiences. As discussed with City officials from the Mayor’s Office, Managing Director’s Office, and the Department of Health on December 7, many arts and cultural institutions not only can meet the same safety protocols and density requirements as retail establishments but can exceed it. We are well-prepared to keep visitors and our staffs safe. 

The Cultural Alliance thanks the many arts and cultural institutions that shared their health protocols and reopening plans so that we, in turn, could share them with the City. The intense and careful work undertaken in the summer and fall months had an enormous and positive impact on our conversations around reopening. We also thank Mayor Kenney, Jim Engler, Tumar Alexander, Dr. Tom Farley, Kelly Lee, and their entire team, who were willing to hear the arts and culture community on this issue and take our work and commitment to safety into consideration as they reevaluated “Safer at Home.” We remain equally grateful to City Council for encouraging this important conversation.

While the road back is long and additional relief funding remains imperative for arts and culture, today’s announcement brings hope as we look toward the New Year. We hope the Governor will support the City’s decision and we look forward to turning the “Lights On” and welcoming visitors back beginning January 4.