A venue can be declared COVID secure, but the financial viability of operating for both the performers (singers and a band) and the venue is very much up in the air.
Using https://venuesearch.ie/capacity-calculator/ a live music venue with a standing capacity of 200 reduces their capacity by 50%. Taking on board costs for: PRS @ 4.2%, Sound Engineer, Band fees, Bar staff, wait staff, management, security etc. Which, even at minimum wage for some staff, calculates at well above £1,000.00 for a 200 (reduced to 100) standing capacity live music venue. So, adding in overhead costs electricity, PR and marketing etc... how does a live venue in this scenario begin to be viable?.
Professor Jonathan Reid is leading a study by Bristol University and Imperial College. The research laboratory is measuring singing and playing ‘ Happy Birthday’ down into a tube several times to establish how many droplets are exhaled and just how far those droplets can travel. Small particles can be airborne for minutes or hours.
Given that Professor Chris Whitty (Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England says that social distancing may be needed for a long time to come, this research is critical for the way forward for performers and venues alike.
Perhaps, the only way a venue can make a COVID secure performance venue viable is if they take a long term view, and decide to have the right band for a specific and carefully timed event(s) for the purposes of promoting the venue brand, and if, their accountant feels it is justified (from a TAX perspective) to lump the costs under PR/Marketing. It might have a long term ROI (Return on Investment) that makes it an expense that is tax efficient and effective in of the underpinning brand awareness.
Many of the offers and press articles we see on a regular basis for big brands is not always about selling the product itself, but it is about securing the brand in the minds of those who when purchasing that type of product thinks of their brand first. For example I don’t buy take-away pizza, but Dominos springs to mind first when I think of take-away pizza.
So the question here in terms of what do we do as performers is. How fragile is your ego? Is it so important that you perform regardless of the circumstance, or, do you decide to wait a little longer, given how long you have already waited to get back to work, for the circumstances to be fair and viable for both performer and venue?. If a venue is forced to reduce their capacity by 50%, can we realistically expect a venue to guarantee a band the same pre-COVID wage?
Currently, the government guidance says that singers and musicians must be 3 metres apart, or stand side –to-side or back-to-back. Question is, how desperate are you to perform that you would deliver a performance that not only looks odd, but seriously compromises the communication with your audience.
Being a committed musician/performer is about delivering the best musical performance you can, always!. Given the current scenario we are faced with, the fact is the best is simply not possible. The audience experience is what makes an audience remember the night you were performing, it is what makes you a household name within their circle of family and friends and a performance they will always talk about. Performing under circumstances that compromises their experience could deemed as putting your ego as a performer before the quality of art form you have committed to providing.