Dayton downtown arts venues plan return to full capacity

After 15 tumultuous months, some of Dayton’s largest venues are eying a return to normal operations.

Wednesday, the majority of Ohio’s health orders expire, and with that, Dayton Live, operator of venues including the Schuster Center and Victoria Theatre downtown, is looking ahead to full capacity and packed shows later this summer.

“We’re really excited,” said Sarah Robertson, Vice President, Dayton live. “It’s a really great opportunity to get people back into our building and comfortable.”

Robertson said the Schuster Center will be host to a smaller event this weekend, with no mask requirement for vaccinated guests, but social distancing still in place.

However, it’s already planning a full house for late summer shows.

“We’re going to do it. We’re going to invite everyone back to full capacity, and have a good time,” she said.

A return to more normal operations will not come without its challenges, though. Robertson said Dayton Live had to lay off 85 to 90 percent of its staff during COVID, leaving the organization with a need to hire dozens of full time employees, and hundreds of part time workers and volunteers to put on the type of shows the organization is planning.

Robertson, though, feels a return to larger events is exactly what people are looking for after more than a year away from these sorts of gatherings.

“Being in a room with 2,300 other people…there’s nothing like it,” she said. “You can’t replace it.”