By Amanda Bornstein
Real Estate Consultant

Email Amanda

Ask a Community Vision Consultant is back and we’re here to answer your questions.

This month’s question: Given the pandemic, how can I safely offer my programs in outdoor spaces?

The answer: Several of our clients are operating at limited capacity or in a different capacity than previously, due to health and safety parameters around COVID-19. The safety concerns and ensuring people’s well-being has prompted organizations to pivot operations and to find creative ways to host pop-up events, small business marketplaces, and cultural performances.

For example the School of Arts & Culture in San Jose transformed their annual Dia de Los Muertos community celebration into a free drive through altar exhibit, Avenida de Alteras. From the safety of their vehicles, families were still able to uphold cultural traditions and enjoy live music, an art gallery, and altars that were created by local artists. In East Oakland, the Black Cultural Zone, launched the AKOMA Outdoor Market in early September. Located at Liberation Park, the market is a space where people enjoy food from local chefs, home cooks, and farmers, purchase crafts and goods from small businesses, dance to local DJs, and connect with their community in a COVID-friendly setting. The Community Arts Stabilization Trust recently launched Dreaming Spaces in Oakland. This charrette-style design process centers artists, cultural workers, creatives, and local residents in the “dreaming” process to design cultural spaces that improve the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

While outdoor activities are generally safe (when there is enough space to allow for at least six feet of distance between folks) and allowed during shelter-in-place, It can still be challenging to figure out where to start. Community Vision has tools that can support your organization in safely offering outdoor programs and services.

Many of the tools we share with our clients (available for free at this link) will help you think through space needs; albeit outside and within specific public health guidelines.

Here are some tips and tools we’ve shared with clients:

First, we recommend that you contact your County public health department early on for guidelines around hosting outdoor events safely and check with your local city jurisdiction to learn if specific permits are required for the type of program you want to hold.

Requirements and safety measures for hosting gatherings and programs outside will vary depending on the county and town you are in. We recommend you visit California’s COVID-19 industry guidance webpage to learn about regulations and suggestions to minimize risk, as well as to be aware of the ‘tier status’ of your county to know what type of restrictions may be in place. Outdoor markets and gatherings that follow requirements for wearing masks and physical distancing should not be as impacted by the varying level of tiers, given the activities take place in an open-air space.

Second, you want to be clear on specific program elements:

  • What type of event will be held?
  • How often will the event take place?
  • How much space will be required to host my program and keep participants and staff safe?
  • How will you identify the right space?
  • What permits are required to utilize that space?

One tool that can help answer the above questions is our Space Calculator. With this tool, you can enter the types of space configurations (tables, tents, etc) and their dimensions to figure out how much total space your program needs. Our budget templates, such as the Sources & Uses template or our Budget & Cash Flow template, allow for running scenarios to identify start up and ongoing expenses and are complementary to the Space Calculator.

We understand the importance of continuing programs and services, especially during these challenging times. If you would like some space or financial management-related advice for your organization, please sign-up for a free 45 minute call with one of our consultants at this link.