Live Shows Return to St. Joseph County For the First Time In Over A Year

The last 11 months of quarantine have proven detrimental to the entertainment business, with the global concert business alone losing $9.7 billion in ticket sales, says Rolling Stone Magazine. Artists, producers, and other behind-the-scenes workers have lost their jobs, venues have closed, and the public has lost a big part of the entertainment industry for almost an entire year. After a summer without concerts and seasons of at-home performances, many people long for the experience of a live in-person show.

As the Covid-19 vaccine gets distributed, the number of Indiana cases has taken a downturn. This transition from orange to yellow has allowed for more businesses to open and some restrictions to loosen. After the approval and coordination with the St. Joseph County Health Dept., the Morris Performing Arts Center will open later this month with “The Color Purple” touring musical and the South Bend Symphony Orchestra on April 10th.  Events at the Century will also continue to open in line with the Morris. With these trends in our local area, it makes one wonder, could this be the return of live entertainment as we once knew?

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Elizabeth Rosfeld | PNN Theaters nationwide have began to reopen at half-capacity Photo Courtesy www.morriscenter.org

As of now, big national event holders like Live Nation predict to be opening shows by late spring of this year, fully opening in the fall. Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino said in an interview with EDM, “It appears that the timing to release [fans’] pent-up supply and demand is now approaching,” Later saying, “They are excited to get back to the show as soon as we get the green lights in these markets to open up.” Last year, Live Nation opened the Global Relief Fund for Live Music Crews, otherwise known as Crew Nation to relieve the debt of the workers that lost their jobs while the industry took a pause. The organization raised $5 million to the relief, initially contributing $5 million to reach their goal of $10 million. Even though this “green-light” is approaching, experts still see the long road to the concert experience as we knew. Promoters and managers predict another year of half-capacity shows, outdoor events, shortened tours, and onetime performances on the way to herd immunity. “We’ve got to wait for the science to catch up with us, and tell us what we’ll be able to do,”  New Jersey Promoter John Scher shared in an interview.

With the excitement over the slow return to normalcy, some concerns have been raised over the small resurrection and whether or not this is sustainable for the lost jobs this virus caused. The miniature openings will not allow for nationwide stadium tours, how most large acts make their profit, which leaves the living wage for the rest of the industry workers low. When asked by Rolling Stone, AEG North America president Rick Mueller stated, The first 50 percent of the tickets pay for expenses like the stagehands and the marketing, the ushers, and the rest and the venue, and the other 50 percent is shared between the artists and the promoter — so, if all you’re going to sell is 50 percent of tickets, nobody’s making any money. Selling 85 percent of tickets is roughly the break-even.” This and the now added cost of extra sanitation have left smaller venues worried about keeping up with the expenses. Theatres have always been constructed to produce the best sound, so for the owners, the fear of worse sound quality because of added barriers and barricades is something they’re very concerned about. The quality of the sound could possibly deflect concert-goers, making future shows difficult to get crowds into.

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Elizabeth Rosfeld | PNN The Morris Center sets to make its return soon Photo: Morriscenter.org

While the answers as to how are still unclear, the public can still expect a live-show resurgence soon. The closer we can all get to what the experts call “herd immunity”, the more normal this experience can be. As for now, the public is encouraged to wear masks and socially distance as venues continue to open. In our own Mishawaka-South Bend venues, we can expect to follow the same social distancing rules. The Morris will be capped at 575 people, keeping 7 feet between the four-seat blocks that have been established. To find more information about tickets, schedules, and further updates on reopening, visit www.morriscenter.org.