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Entertainment facilities: First to close, last to open

It feels like 2020 has been the longest year on record for everyone. Things are hardly back to no...

It feels like 2020 has been the longest year on record for everyone.

Things are hardly back to normal by any standard, but it has been encouraging to see the buzz of back-to-school shoppers and the community embracing dining out again.

As we prepare to enter the last quarter of the year, it’s important to remember there are some industries stuck in limbo, such as any facility that hosts crowds.

What does the future hold for entertainment venues?

To be fair, the Saskatchewan government has technically allowed the reopening of movie theatres, live theatres, performing arts and live performances (in restaurants, licensed establishments and farmers’ markets).

Venues, however, are bewildered by the distancing and sanitizing required, both of which are virtually impossible in crowd scenarios.

Music has gone silent

Drive-in events have popped up with some success, such as the NSBA’s Popcorn and Entrepreneurship Series hosted from the parking lot at Prairieland this year.

Quite frankly, though, even if a concert was being held tomorrow, would you go? That’s the assumption many venues and touring artists have made as we see more cancellations of festivals and appearances.

My family attended our first live, socially distanced music event in August. We took in a local band, The Whiskey Jerks, and enjoyed a few cold beverages in our family pod from a parking lot.

Far from normal, but it sure was special. My husband is still talking about it.

Music lovers are hungry for live interaction; watching streams from the couch simply doesn’t suffice.

That’s also to say musicians are likely literally hungry as they have lost their livelihoods: touring.

Baby steps

Saskatoon’s downtown concert hall, TCU Place, has announced it will host its first live event in months during the first week in October.

But the venue will only be selling 120 of the regular 2,003 seats available. As noted in TCU Place’s promotion of the event, “We have the space to keep you safe.”

Interestingly, ticket prices are not higher than regular prices, but I would expect other venues may not be able to hold their pricing with reduced capacity.

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