Travis McCready Concert May Be First Test For Social Distancing Live Events

A small concert featuring country music star Travis McCready set for this coming week is being watched carefully as a potential test of social distancing in the live events space.

McCready, who fronts the band Bishop Gunn, is scheduled to do an acoustic set in Fort Smith, Arkansas on May 15. Tickets are being sold by Live Nation’s Ticketmaster. If the concert takes place, it would happen three days before the Arkansas state government has said it would lift its ban on small gatherings.

Concert promoter TempleLive claims it will be implementing social distancing and other health measures, but it’s likely that the state orders that gatherings be limited to 50 people will not be enforced. Masks will be mandatory and social distancing will be instituted at the show, promoters claim.

The live music industry has been devastated by the pandemic shutdown, with many venues, including such prestigious venues as L.A.’s Troubadour, stating they will close if they can’t generate revenue soon.

The summer concert season has largely been wiped out, and online performances have risen to fill in the gap. However, revenue generating shows online are in their early stages, and there’s no track record to indicate they will be able to be a lucrative revenue source for acts or venues. In the latter case, alcohol or food can’t be sold.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has set a May 18 reopening day for indoor venues, including theaters, arenas and stadiums. However, he has indicated that they should limit audiences to less than 50 people. So far, McCready’s show has indicated that 229 fans will attend in a 1,000-seat venue.

Promoters of the McCready show have argued that since churches are not facing the same limitations on attendance, the state directive discriminates against live music venues. The Governor has said the concert “remains outside the state’s pandemic directive” in a statement. But he has not indicated whether there will be an attempt to stop the show.

Missouri is already opened for live music with certain restrictions, but no shows have yet been scheduled in that state.


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