UPDATE, PART II: The plans to stage the first social distancing live music event since the pandemic shutdown were scuttled late on Thursday, as Arkansas officials seized the liquor license of a concert hall where artist Travis McCready would have performed.
The show was set to happen on Friday. Promoters described the show as “postponed” rather than cancelled. It is tentatively rescheduled for Monday, May 18, a day when the state said venues were legally allowed to hold concerts with no more than 50 attendees.
In addition to the license pull, the Arkansas Department of Health also issued a cease-and-desist order to the promoter, Temple Live.
The promoters were upset with the decision. “‘We the people,’ three amazing words, and they have been trampled on today,” said Mike Brown, a representative of Temple Live, during a televised news conference.
UPDATE: Arkansas health officials have stated they will issue a cease-and-desist order in an effort to stop a planned Friday concert in that state. If held, the event would be the first major live music gathering since the pandemic shuttered most venues in mid-March.
Country music’s Travis McCready is scheduled to headline a show in Fort Smith, Arkansas on Friday, three days before the state officially lifts restrictions on concerts at indoor theaters, arenas and stadiums. Those restrictions include limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people. The McCready show promoters said they would have 229 attendees in their 1,100 seat venue.
The Arkansas Department of Health said it would issue a cease-and-desist order to block it from taking place after the governor said he did not approve of the show.
But Mike Brown from the promoters of the show said they were still talking to state officials, and refused to declare a cancellation. The promoters have previously promised to follow social distancing and best health practices.
McCready is also scheduled to perform Saturday in Pineville, Missouri, about two hours away from Fort Smith. The Missouri show would be limited to 400 attendees.
EARLIER: 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.