When live performances eventually return, what will the new “normal” be?

Posted on: April 20, 2020

“Anxiety in the business of live entertainment is at record levels during the current stage of the agonizing global COVID-19 pandemic,” writes Chris Jones in Wednesday’s (4/15) Chicago Tribune. “When will it be safe and ethical to re-open? … The question is not only unanswerable at present, but almost entirely dependent on the actions of government officials…. ‘It’s not going to be a light switch,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert… For live entertainment [reopening] may mean social distancing: … asking venues to only seat every other row, or put empty spaces between couples. That is a logistical nightmare for live entertainment, where the economic model requires full houses…. Fauci … has also mentioned the possibility of rolling quarantines, of starting up activity but being ready to stop if infection rates increase. [That] certainly would favor flexible, simple scheduling: announcing one attraction at a time…. It would favor simple shows—an acoustic concert, a chamber opera, a small cast, improvisation. Portability will be a desirable quality. So will being outside.… In 2020, economic structures are built around fixed runs, artists on tour and complex scheduling; there is no existing model for such flexibility. Maybe one will need to be created.”