A small concert in Fort Smith, Arkansas, that features a relatively unknown artist performing in a venue that will be 80 percent empty, is drawing international attention during the coronavirus pandemic.
The concert on May 15 stars Travis McCready, the front man for the country-rock outfit Bishop Gunn, but the main attraction for many — especially those in the music industry — will be seeing how this pioneering social-distancing concert goes and whether it can be used as a template for holding concerts across the country in the COVID-19 age.
The show will be very different than what music fans are used to, as the promoters are implementing some strict rules to try to ensure proper social distancing.
To start, Fort Smith’s TempleLive, a venue that can hold up to 1,100 people, will have its capacity cut by 80 percent. Only 229 fans will be allowed into the building. And general mingling will be a definite no-no, as music lovers will be separated into small groups — what organizers are calling “fan pods” — to further help with social distancing.
Here are some of the safety precautions being used for the event, as outlined on the Ticketmaster web page for this event:
1. The balcony will be only accessible by stairs, not by elevator.
2. The venue will be sanitized by an independent third party prior to the event via fog sprayers.
3. Masks will be required for both fans and employees.
4. Fans arriving without masks will be able to purchase them at the venue.
5. The theater will use one-way walkways, as per CDC guidelines, which will be supervised by TempleLive employees.
6. Fan “pods” (i.e. groups) must be separated by at least six feet at all times.
7. There is a 10-person limit in the restrooms, which will use no-touch soap/towel dispensers. Some “bathroom fixtures” will be closed to help ensure proper social distancing.
8. Fans’ temperatures will be taken at entry points.
9. Only prepackaged beverages — or ones with lids — will be served.
10. TempleLive staff will be wiping down “touch points”
It sounds like an intimidating, lengthy and arduous process. But that could be the kind of concert experience that awaits fans from coast to coast until pandemic conditions drastically change.
Thus, people will be paying very close attention to this concert — that is, of course, if it ends up even happening.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has said that the concert is a “violation of state guidelines for reopening indoor venues and has not been approved,” according to ABC affiliate KATV in Arkansas. The show is set to happen three days before May 18, the reopening date announced by Hutchinson for large indoor venues.
So far, TempleLive officials are sticking to the May 15 concert date, KATV reports.
— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 12, 2020
Loving the new @elevation_wrshp release, with the amazing “The Blessing” single featuring @codycarnes and (one of my faves) @karijobe. Check it out, plus offerings from @OkeeDokeeBros & @JosieDunneMusic https://t.co/e3UYIK6Cn3
— Jim Harrington (@jimthecritic) May 6, 2020
— Cecily Burt (@csburt) April 30, 2020