The promoter of the Travis McCready show at TempleLive in Fort Smith, Arkansas — the first socially distanced concert to be staged since the coronavirus set in — has applied to move the concert to Monday instead of Friday, promoter Mike Brown told KNWA on Thursday. The concert has been at the center of a controversy with the state government because it was scheduled to take place on Friday, three days before the state officially reopened after coronavirus lockdown.
Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson said he is “delighted” by the promoter’s decision to comply with state guidelines, assuming the show meets with the Department of Health’s approval.
Brown said he was applying to move the concert “against our will” despite a cease-and-desist order from the state, a threat of police action by the governor and the suspension of its alcohol permit.
In recent days Brown has been involved in a standoff with Governor Hutchinson over the concert, which was scheduled to take place Friday, three days before the state officially reopened from coronavirus lockdown. The state issued a cease-and-desist order Tuesday, and suspended the venue’s alcohol permit early Thursday.
“We’ve been punished for thinking about doing something, or considering while we were evaluating,” he told the station. “It’s very Minority Report and Westworld, which I thought were pieces of fiction but are now reality in this country and state,” he said.
Governor Hutchinson applauded the move at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. “It’s my understanding that they indicated they’re moving the concert from May 15 to May 18, which means the concert would fit within our guidelines,” he said. “So we’re grateful they determined they ought to follow the directives and the law and do the right thing for the concertgoers, but also for the public in general. We’re delighted that on Monday, assuming that their health plan can be approved by the Department of Health, that that concert can proceed.”
The show was trumpeted as an experiment in reopening the concert industry by stock analysts ahead of Live Nation’s quarterly earnings last week, although the event is not promoted or produced by the company.
It has been marred by conflicting statements and agendas. Indoor venues in Arkansas, including arenas and theaters, can reopen on May 18 at reduced capacity as long as they follow social distancing measures. TempleLive has said it plans to operate with its capacity reduced to 20%, from 1,100 to 229 people, in order to allow for social distancing.
According to the concert’s Ticketmaster page, TempleLive plans to sanitize the venue using fog sprayers and require all attendees and employees to wear masks, as well as posting temperature checks of attendees at entry points, separate all seating groups or “fan pods” by six feet, and limit 10 people to the restrooms, among other measures.
Tickets for the concert remain on sale as of Wednesday afternoon.