The necessary stay-at-home orders, social distancing and increased protocols to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus have closed all music venues in the country. And the hard part will be re-opening them safely, slowly and using best practices to do so without causing more harm. A new collaborative effort is being coordinated by Music Cities Together, which was already in place to help venues and local officials revive and develop the local music scenes in cities across the country.
They have formed the Reopen Every Venue Safely pilot program with 8 cities to “develop and disseminate action plans and budgets rooted in a hyper-pragmatic understanding of the challenges ahead” as music venues plan to eventually re-open their businesses, present live music and invite the public back into their spaces.
The 8 pilot cities are Cleveland, Austin, Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, and Albuquerque. Other cities are joining the collaboration to date are Washington D.C., Louisville, and Charlotte, with others expected to follow.
Gabe Pollock of the BOP STOP told CoolCleveland, “Through the initiative, BOP STOP is hoping to collaborate with other venues locally and nationwide to create a reopening strategy that includes a set of best practices and policies to ensure that we reopen in an efficient and safe manner.”
“We all want live music to return but if the Governor told us we could open up our clubs tomorrow most of us would not feel ready to do so because we need to feel more comfortable. We need clear plans on how to bring our staffs back to work, how to operate safely, and how to protect ourselves from future spikes of the virus. As a cohort, we hope to develop responses to questions like these in hopes that we can create a new and safe way to operate,” Pollock told CoolCleveland.
“Specifically related to the music, we need best practices for disinfecting instruments/gear and running safe sound checks. We need to consider if we limit the types of bands that perform. For example, at BOP STOP we will not have a big band on stage anytime soon. We might phase in our live music with instrumental rhythm sections first as there is evidence that vocalists and wind instruments spread droplets farther. Perhaps we utilize our outdoor spaces and live streaming capabilities before reopening our indoor stages. As a cohort, we will address these concerns in hopes that we can create new and safe ways to operate,” Gabe told CoolCleveland.
The Reopen Every Venue Safely initiative is growing but for now many of the venues that are a part of Cleveland Music Club Coalition including Grog Shop, Beachland, Happy Dog, Mahalls, Bop Stop, Winchester, and Music Box will be partaking, and others are expected to join.
“We understand it is unrealistic, and in some ways irresponsible, to blithely move ahead and assume venues will be in a position to open without an aggressive, integrated plan to anticipate the resources and strategies necessary to successfully — and safely — reopen our live music economy,” she said Lisa Alexis, the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy in New Orleans, one of the city officials working with Music Cities Together via their REVS initiative.