As Live Events Return, Organizers Take Various Precautions

The availability of Covid-19 vaccines has resulted in many recreational activities that were limited during the pandemic finally returning. For example, across a range of genres and venues, live musical performances are beginning again. However, they’re a little different than they were in pre-pandemic days.

While the pandemic may be slowing down, it’s still necessary to take safety precautions in environments where relatively large numbers of people gather in close proximity. Music venue owners and event organizers are doing so in a variety of ways.

For example, at Giuseppe Verdi Music Conservatory, the oldest music conservatory in Italy, students have spent the past few months playing music behind Covid glass screens. These are essentially the same types of screens that protect grocery store workers. Now that students have begun giving performances again, they are still playing behind screens.

This may be an example of a precaution that fortunately has minimal (if any) effect on the quality of the experience for those in the audience. Covid glass screens serve an important purpose without being intrusive. There is a possibility that they will remain a common feature at performances that don’t require much movement across the stage on the part of the performers, at least for several more months.

Other precautions may alter the nature of the live performance experience in ways that have yet to be fully seen or appreciated.

For example, at California’s Long Beach Opera, the decision has been made to not yet stage performances in an opera house or auditorium. Instead, screens have been set up throughout a parking structure. Guests can watch performances broadcast on these screens either inside their own vehicles or “tailgate style.”

This experience naturally differs from the traditional opera experience. However, it’s likely this type of precaution is only temporary. Once more people are vaccinated, opera houses and similar venues will almost certainly reopen.

Some are already beginning to do so. In Texas, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra is on track to reopen for full-house performances in the fall. In the meantime, performers are already giving indoor concerts for smaller audiences than usual. This is obviously a step that’s necessary for safety reasons, but it could also give both performers and venue managers time to prepare for a full reopening. Performers can get accustomed to playing in front of a crowd again while also managing the anxiety that some feel returning to the stage so soon after a pandemic, and venue managers can test various precautions to better determine how they will keep everyone safe later.

It’s worth noting that taking precautions such as those described here isn’t just a means of keeping people healthy. Although that’s naturally the primary reason for taking these steps, doing so (and openly advertising it) can help venues attract more guests.

Surveys indicate people have mixed feelings about returning to live events. Some are eager to do so, while others report they’ll probably stay away from such events for the foreseeable future.

Others are in the middle. They want to attend live events soon, but they also need to know they’ll be safe doing so. These people may be more inclined to attend such events if it’s clear those in charge of organizing them have taken the proper precautions.

Again, the return to live performances is just beginning. We’ve yet to truly see how quickly, slowly, and safely it will play out. However, it’s already clear event organizers are well aware of the importance of precautions post-pandemic.

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