The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on businesses worldwide, particularly those in the entertainment and live events sectors. Artists and event organizers alike have been struggling throughout the pandemic, trying to find alternative methods of maintaining their livelihoods. Thankfully for those who have been waiting patiently for a viable solution—workers and patrons alike—Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that live music and theaters could return by Fall 2021.
According to Fauci, reopening theaters and concert venues depends on a successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. Fauci addressed concerns surrounding the ongoing drought the live events industry is experiencing at the Association of Performing Arts Professionals conference, an event that typically drew thousands of attendees but was forced to switch to a virtual format during the pandemic.
Per the New York Times, Fauci has said that the return of live events depends on vaccinating 70-85% of the population. That percentage was based on several studies which state that at least 70% of a population needs to be vaccinated in order for herd immunity to be achieved. As far as a timeline is concerned, Fauci said, “If everything goes right, this is will occur sometime in the fall of 2021, so that by the time we get to the early to mid-fall, you can have people feeling safe performing onstage as well as people in the audience.”
That news certainly provided some hope for members of an industry that has lost $14.8B throughout the course of the pandemic according to an Americans for the Arts study. During the conference, Fauci made note of other studies and industries as examples of how the live event industry could return without herd immunity being achieved.
He referenced a German study that highlights ways that indoor concerts could take place safely by utilizing good ventilation, putting strict hygiene policies in place, and limiting the number of tickets sold. Recently, however, Rolling Stone spoke with several live music professionals who pointed out that most concerts are not financially feasible if the venues are not filled to, or near, capacity. In order to overcome that obstacle, promoters would have to charge exorbitant ticket fees to make up for the lost sales, potentially reaching a price that patrons would not be willing to pay.
Fauci also referenced the airline industry, suggesting that ticket sales and entry to venues could become contingent on negative COVID-19 tests. While that makes a lot of sense, there has been push-back against some of those policies by some airline professionals who claim that said policies would negatively affect bookings; how those policies would translate to the live events sector remains to be seen.
Regardless of how it would need to be done, those in the live entertainment industry are sure to do what they can to return to work. To the attendee’s relief, Fauci closed his appearance at the conference on a hopeful note, saying, “We’ll be back in the theaters — performers will be performing, audiences will be enjoying it. It will happen.”