live concert halls find innovative ways to reach audiences during pandemic | Chicago News

As all 50 states begin the delicate work of reopening their economies, the music industry is taking its own steps to get people back to bars – virtually, in many cases.

On Monday, The Temple Live in Fort Smith, Arkansas, sold 239 tickets for its 1,100-seat venue, where bathrooms were fitted with string sinks fitted with touchless soap dispensers, and members of the public were subjected to quick temperature checks before entering. American roots musician Travis McCready performed on a gear-packed stage devoid of his band members, Bishop Gunn, 14 feet from the audience, who watched in small groups 6 feet apart, wearing masks.

On Armitage Avenue in Chicago, blues bar Rosa’s Lounge opened on Saturday and hosted John Primer and the Real Deal Blues Band. The trio donned masks, settled down 6 feet apart, and began performing in front of remote-controlled cameras that club owner Tony Manguillo used to broadcast the show live.

While Illinois won’t be playing The Temple Live concert anytime soon, streaming it live from inside a concert hall is an innovation. And it has only been legal for a few days.

Last Friday, Governor JB Pritzker issued a revised executive order regarding essential businesses. In a document summarize the order and answer frequently asked questions In this regard, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunities (DCEO) states that although “concert halls are to remain closed to the public,” they can open their doors to musicians and employees for the purposes of music. recording or live broadcasting, provided everyone present is more than 6 feet away, wearing masks and groups do not exceed 10 people.

Attorney Marni Willenson, of Willenson Law LLC, a workplace class action lawyer and wife of Manguillo, was responsible for this allowance.

She and Manguillo wanted to broadcast live from Rosa’s Lounge as they did the week between the governor issued his original stay-at-home order, which saw concert halls as non-essential businesses. She reached out to a board member of the Chicago Independent Venue League, known as CIVL, and in one afternoon the group, which represents 34 locations across the city, approved the idea. Willenson then moved to the governor’s office.

“I worked with the office of Deputy Governor Dan Hynes,” said Willenson. “I don’t usually live in this industry. I specialize in workplace and gender discrimination cases. But I am a lawyer, I can write. I helped polish the language that ended up in the DCEO FAQ document.

CIVL recently joined forces with a new organization of more than 1,000 sites across the country, the National Independent Venue Association, or NIVA. Together, they hope to share with policymakers the specific needs and concerns of their community during the pandemic.

“The initial commands were blunt instruments,” Willenson said. “No one disputes the need for us to close for reasons of public safety. But we should not be dealing with a blunt instrument when it comes to reopening. We want it to be a participatory process rather than transmission from above. Independent concert halls are different from theaters or the Symphony Center. There are so many details to think about that will not be taken into account if we are not at the table.

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