Entertainment will never be the same - Innovation will be the single most important factor in the industry’s survival
The entertainment industry remains one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. For an industry that thrives on face-to-face interaction and public gatherings, lockdown conditions have crippled the space. Now, with coronavirus infection rates rapidly increasing again, it has become more difficult to estimate when some level of normality will return.
Stakeholders will therefore have to make adjustments to operate in a space that has to factor in COVID-19. But how will this look? What will the entertainment world look like with COVID-19? How will Jamaica’s party scene cope with social-distancing guidelines in place, and how will the ‘six-feet-apart’ rule impact a party’s ‘fun factor’? Will it make sense to go to a dance/session where one cannot dance with another?
Event promoter Gyete Ghartey told The Sunday Gleaner that when the entertainment industry does reopen, it is obvious that it won’t be business as usual. Ghartey, who hosts retro parties, Mellow Vibes and Yesterday, at Mas Camp, said that for the past few months, he has been meditating on the party scene and what it will look like once given the green light in the midst of COVID. “One thing I know for sure is that it definitely will be different from what we’re used to. It is possible for us to make events work with all the restrictions and stuff, but how much fun are you going to have? What is a party when you can’t meet new people, dance and enjoy yourselves? There are some interesting times ahead.”
FIND CREATIVE WAYS
Managing Director of Dream Entertainment Scott Dunn painted a picture of what he thinks the future of events in Jamaica would look like. Having hosted a drive-in event on August 1, dubbed ‘Park Up and Tun Up’, Dunn says that when given the green light to once again resume operations, innovation will be the single most important factor in the industry’s survival. “As an industry, we will have to find creative ways to keep going, and we are capable. Dream Entertainment proved this with our events in July and August in the midst of the pandemic. We definitely can party in a bubble or from our cars. And when I speak of a ‘bubble’, I’m talking about something that the US Tennis Open or the NBA did where they essentially created an environment with continued testing and monitoring, and so there wasn’t any fear for these people having the virus. So within that environment, you could move around as you needed to without reason to necessarily be sanitising or wearing masks, because you are pretty confident that nobody has tested positive for the virus,” he expressed, pointing out that this bubble would be created through rapid testing. He then went on to say that social distancing on the party scene is highly attainable so long as the venues permit.
Dunn was also quick to point out that with these new ideas comes new costs that either the promoter or the patron will have to absorb. Therefore, whenever the industry reopens its gates, the party experience will be more costly. An idea Ghartey also shared. “It’s gonna cost us more to get more space to accommodate guests with the social-distancing rules. When you have a space that you could fit 100 persons in and now you have to fit 30-40, it’s gonna have an effect on your overhead costs. Plus, when you factor in the cost of sanitisation station, etc, it will definitely drive up the price of an event. And unless the promoter decides to absorb that cost, the patron will have to. As I said before, there are some interesting times ahead for the industry.”
Jr Bloodline, promoter of St Thomas’ ‘Morning Bliss’ party agreed. He admits that with all the sector has gone through, the face of the entertainment industry has already changed. He, however, noted that having faced many obstacles in the past and come out stronger, the industry has proven that it is resilient. He says he has no doubt that although things won’t be the same, the industry and its proprietors will not be broken. “The industry has already changed. We will have to maintain the social-distancing guidelines, whether we like it or not. It will be hard to maintain, but we are capable. If everyone follows the proper procedures, we can party amid COVID,” he said. “It is clear that this virus is going to be around for a while, and so adjusting is the only real solution at this time. Yes, events will look and feel different. It will cost more because production cost will increase, but the industry is strong and we will come out of this bigger and better.”