THOUGHTS AND TRAJECTORIES ON THE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS AND ITS COUNTERMEASURES ON UK EVENTS.
“Good morning! What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for four hundred thousand.”–Wavy Gravy, Woodstock, 1969.
Safe! Hi, Steve Fly reporting for duty. DJ, drummer originally from West Midlands, living in Amsterdam. I want to share thoughts on uncertainty around events, venues, artist performances, Covid-safe measures and practical solutions.
I, like you I suspect, want to see a swift return to live events, economically supporting the venue and the artist and the safety of the community. Please go-ahead and sign as many petitions and join as many like-minded groups as possible, with an eye on both local and international adjacencies. Use creative, artistic agency to innovate past and through the array of difficult obstacles placed before us as new Covid restrictions. Work together in groups, find the others, try dipping your toe into other music scenes and networks that are equally affected, seek common ground on which to build. Use your artistic skill to get the message across.
I’m making this up as I go so please excuse my mistakes and misguided emphasis. I’ll try to break this down into three sections: Obstacles / Tools required to overcome / Future Horizons.
I doubt any individual can keep track of the fast paced changes in rules and regulations, in either their own country, let alone track what is happening in the others. Change is the only constant (somebody said that better before me). To stay one step ahead of this virus and the countermeasures put in place to combat it, requires eternal vigilance.
The ability of governments and health organizations and news outlets to respond accordingly has proved to me, wholly inadequate, as for their assistance to artists and creatives and events folks, utterly shambolic. Be that as it may, we have to study the rules impartially no matter how much we don’t like them or agree with them. From this deeper understanding specific obstacles, e.g., opening hours, number of physical customers, licenses, exemptions, legality, we can map out where we need to focus, and best use our resources/time. I consider the above to be law-based obstacles, countermeasures resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, rules that can vary from city to city, country to country, week to week. We have to practice and work on our improvisation skills, musically and politically speaking.
Covid-19, the biological, chemical, mathematical virus is a tough opponent that demonstrably cares not for politicians nor artists. To better understand the virus, what it is, how it spreads and how it can be neutralized comes down to study. I recommend objective study of trends and trending fields of immunology, virology, epidemiology and social health. I say this because every venue, every events business and every artist is now in the domain of public health. We are social health organizations, or we should strive to become and stand up as such. Yes Dr.
We can’t do this without either taking some heavy crash courses in some hard scientific fields, or by making relationships with those individuals and organizations which already hold the required skills, e.g. biosecurity officers, public health representatives. Study their field, or at least skim the agenda points from their 2020 meetings and prepare to engage. Know your research, try to distinguish between hard and soft science, I know, there’s a lot of other shit going on.
TOOLS REQUIRED TO OVERCOME
In no particular order, I’d like to share some ideas for dealing with some of the above, while adding my own whimsical design-science based solutions to the problem.
Youtube, with some time and disciplined focus, can provide all that you need in the sense of practical guides, helpful workshops and panel discussions about useful knowledge tools. My Covid playlist here.
Search for papers using Google Scholar, find out who else is asking the questions you are, who is publishing solutions, examples of Covid-safe events, festivals, performances? (Answer: sports organizations. Team members and all staff, venues, etc, from a variety of sports have demonstrated strict measures to create a “sterile bubble” or Covid safe environment. Study these models, innovate your own ideas for your venue, band, collective, festival. Innovate through and past the restrictions, be prepared. Discuss in groups how a hypothetical “sterile bubble” might work in your chosen field, test, track and trace the hypothesis, turn it into a game.
Trust is a tool we all have, hopefully in bed together with doubt and optimism. At some point, I feel that those innovating future Covid-safe events/venues will have to confront and work with the relevant authorities, locally, nationally, and I stress…internationally. To revert back to my plea to study and try to understand the hard sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, if you speak the universal and internationally recognised–language of science–then you have allies far and wide, beyond whatever local restrictions you may currently endeur. What works in one small town or medium sized city in one country, if properly networked and scientifically verifiable, may work in others. I see the international reach of artists who trust each other as a powerful force, before, during and after the pandemic. Try not to let local conditions get you down.
Keeping in step with the hard science, and perhaps striving to communicate in probabilities, it will naturally follow that you are better informed and so better equipped to design / solve / innovate. Don’t be afraid of going further than your government advisors insist, take more precautions than they, think more inclusively than they do, speak more precisely and specifically than they do, care more than they do and the most difficult task…taking the Covid-19 virus more seriously than they. As you may have noticed, I don’t have time to entertain so called, scamdemic or covid hoax conspiracies, yes we should all fight for our right, civil liberties and freedoms, but to claim Covid 19 is a hoax directly and negatively affects these efforts, and our effort to return–as quickly as possible–to some semblance of society where venues, artists and promoters and the public can stay active and sustain themselves, viably. Yes.
The Covid 19 global pandemic will pass, there will be a time in the future when those who survived it regroup and get back to events and festivals as we knew them before March, despite the romantic vision of a single day when the events industry gets switched on, it seems unlucky it will happen that way.
Presently, I feel we should prepare for each local municipality and different nations swaying back and forward between local and national lock-downs, or attempt to create a “sterile bubble”. I don’t like this or want this but I think it’s the way it’s going to be, so we should network and regroup, both locally and nationally, to at least stay in communication and share anything deemed useful, including testimony.
We ALL have our stories, honest, true, heartfelt, dazzling (when including examples of previous works) perhaps these testimonies can be gathered around an innovative hashtag or extension of an existing campaign? Join adjacent campaigns. Make video/audio testimonials, make them dazzle. Make common ground using Hashtags, for example:
#SaveOurVenues #WeAreViable #WeMakeEvents #WeMakeSafeEvents #LetTheMusicPlay #ArtSafe #ArtSafeTestimonials #BioSecureArtists #BioSafeEvents #ArtistScientist #CovidSafeForArt #SaveOurMusic
I’d also suggest alternative collaborative networks to raise funds for day-to-day needs and challenges to those directly affected by the virus and its countermeasures, plus opportunity for income revenue. Yes, all creatives are affected, those with existing vulnerabilities more so, let’s keep an eye out for them. Most of the tech giants have such platforms to receive funds, I’m grateful and fortunate to have Patreon supporters, I recommend it. I’m trying to drive more meaningful traffic there than to Farcebook, but we must use all platforms to spread our message #LetTheMusicPlay
Together with Bandcamp, Go Fund Me, Kick Starter and Indiegogo there’s a handful of ways to receive support, remotely. It’s no substitute for a gig or booking, but it’s worth going through the process of evaluating your assets, existing networks and possible adjacencies. You can find me at www.patreon.com/stevefly I’d love to have you on-board for the ride, to innovate tools to help us navigate the rocky canal ahead.
Thanks to those raising awareness about the dire situation in the UK and across the world facing artists, events staff, tour managers, promoters, stage and transport staff, caterers, theaters, clubs, sound and lighting engineers, the public…stranded without the events that bind a healthy culture together.
I wish each and every person affected by the virus and its countermeasures a safe journey into uncertainty, never stop innovating and testing hypotheses, the future may judge you kindly for your efforts at this critical juncture, sincerely.
“It’s going to be a combination Scopes trial, revolution in the streets, Woodstock Festival and People’s Park, all rolled into one.–Abbie Hoffman.
Further Reading / Groups / Campaigns
We Are Viable (FB group) – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1594744227372051
UK Music.org: https://www.ukmusic.org/policy/copyright-directive/lovemusic/
Save Our National Venues: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-our-venues-national-campaign
1500 Artists Call On Government (News Item) https://www.dazeddigital.com/music/article/49697/1/letthemusic-play-campaign-1500-musicians-sign-open-letter-save-uk-live-music
Petition (Let us Dance) https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/332789?fbclid=IwAR1SdXsjoeWxVvT1Eoc1mRGgy6vYqNVIvTYAFsBsboy1rULIzcMXNIZuh8Q
Mark Pesce Lecture: (Horizons and Trajectories) https://youtu.be/pVQw0rsXW2k