Earlier this month, Arkansas theater TempleLive made national headlines by scheduling a live, ticketed concert with Travis McCready of Bishop Gunn to take place on May 15th. As TempleLive’s Mike Brown noted in a local TV interview when the show was announced, “From what we can tell this is the first announced live show in the country since we were all shut down from the COVID virus outbreak.”
Despite the extensive list of rules and modifications being made by the venue to make the show comply with social distancing guidelines, the state Department of Health is set to issue the venue a cease and desist order to make sure the show does not go on Friday as planned.
As Governor Asa Hutchinson noted during a press conference on Tuesday, “In terms of the concert, there will be a cease and desist order that will be issued by the Department of Health directing that that concert not take place, which is an official legal order and directive that will go out.”
TempleLive had prepared a long list of changes to help make the concert a socially-distanced reality. First of all, the capacity of the venue was reduced by 80%, from 1,100 to just 229. Even with just 229 people in the theater, seating assignments were to be strictly enforced, as only specific, separated “pods” of seats were made available to would-be concert-goers. Furthermore, the pods were only being sold as a set, and the theater advised that only people with whom fans feel safe quarantining should fill those seats with you.
Take a look at how the seating was set to work on the diagram via the show’s ticketing page and read the full list of the Arkansas concert venue’s social distancing updates below:
[Screengrab via Ticketmaster]
-Capacity reduced by 80% from 1,100 to 229.
-Venue will be sanitized prior to each event via fog sprayers.
-Masks will be available for purchase if desired.
-Per CDC guidelines, one-way walk-ways in theater managed by TempleLive employees.
-6-feet of separation from all seating groups or fan pods.
-10 person limit in all restrooms.
-All soap and paper towel dispensers will be no-touch.
-Closure of bathroom fixtures to maintain 6-feet of distance during use.
-Temperatures of attendees to be taken at entry points.
-All beverages will be prepackaged or have lids.
-TempleLive employees will be actively wiping down touchpoints in venue and restrooms.
As Brown noted previously, “This isn’t gonna be a thing to make money with, but it’s a step back towards normalcy and best practices that we can institute…The financial side is not something that we were really concerned with. We wanted to give something back to the community.” He must have been sincere about this not being a financial move—each ticket was being sold for just $20 plus fees (provided you bought every ticket in that “pod”).
In the end, TempleLive’s main issue with the government surrounded the date of the show. While the state of Arkansas will officially open up the possibility for live concerts on May 18th, this concert’s May 15th caused it to fall just short of the threshold.
Earlier on Tuesday, TempleLive shared a live video of Travis McCready sound-checking in the empty venue with the caption, “Let Travis McCready of Natchez’s Bishop GUNN play!” Watch the clip below:
Despite TempleLive’s best efforts, it looks like the concert will be put on hold by the Arkansas state government. TempleLive currently has a handful of events for later this summer and fall on its schedule, but with the venue’s new social distancing updates, we wouldn’t be surprised to see more imminent shows hit their calendar once venues in Arkansas are officially allowed to open on May 18th.
[H/T Rolling Stone]