Why We’re Providing A Stimulus Package for Local Entertainment Venues
First and foremost public health is the most important thing in the immediate term. But once that box is on its way to being checked there needs to be an exit strategy put in place for picking up the pieces and restarting all aspects of our lives. Not just for the government managing this crisis, but for communities and businesses too. Consider it a civic duty to be going the extra mile right now.
The world is a complex system and Coronavirus has caused many parts of the world to stall. Quarantining almost everyone across the world has set in motion a chain reaction. The virus has caused a paralysing cascade failure that will bring about untold devastation to communities and businesses globally for at least a generation. This will continue long after the pandemic is over and solutions are limited. I’m no believer in austerity, and I’m no believer in spending your way out of a crisis either. So instead we lift each other up.
Locally we have a handful of options at our disposal, but how far any of this will get us is difficult to tell, though doing nothing seems absurd. The compromise requires an active intervention and that’s why we are launching “Operation: Band Sanitiser!”
As a small live sound and lighting provider, Eat Audio is in the fortunate position that all we’re going to lose in the short and long term is business. It’s inevitable and has been graciously accepted by us as the new normal, particularly as social distancing will have to continue for a long time even after lockdown ends.
Being a player in the local entertainment community since the mid 2000’s, Eat Audio needs to adapt its business model for the future times. Being creative and inventive will continue. Being collaborative will need to be ramped up. In the mid to long term Eat Audio intends to put community at the heart of its priorities from now on, moving towards expanding beyond its capitalist goals to having a part socially enterprising focus.
We are lucky enough to own all of our gear outright so we won’t be closing the doors. This doesn’t mean there won’t be a cost to us, it just means as a business we are more fortunate than most that rely on consistent cash flow that may be lost in future.
The worst outcome for Eat Audio is that it will potentially become stagnant if the phone stops ringing and bookings don’t continue, and I don’t want to see that happen. Time is precious, much of 2020’s plans have had to be written off and none of us are getting any younger.
It’s a foregone conclusion that many of our favourite venues will unfortunately fold. Some may even be closed for good now and we just haven’t had an announcement yet. But for those that are able to keep their doors open, Eat Audio would like to be able to help a handful of businesses and community venues alike mitigate their financial hardship by supporting them to host high quality live music events. Enter “Operation: Band Sanitiser!”
In the short term we intend to do this by offering up the use of our sound systems at no cost. This will be for one event of our choice a month. This event can cater for a local entertainment business (such as a pub with a large function hall) or for a community venue or operation. The finer details of how this will work will be entirely at our discretion and made through negotiation with applicants. This proposal will initially be limited to a period of 12 months from whenever lockdown is over and social distancing is largely scaled back but initially we’ll be looking at starting in January 2021. It’s only a token gesture, but it could mean everything to someone, somewhere. If it appears to be a successful venture, we may decide to continue the project beyond the initial trial period. Time will tell, and if we can prevent at least one business from going under then that’s a massive achievement.
The catch? Of course there’s a catch! You only get one free event. The event has to host at least four local bands of your choice and the venue must be capable of holding at least 250 attendees. It is essential the venue is easily accessible, on the ground floor with no more than three steps. Events can be indoors or outdoors, but provisions must be made to make outdoor events very weather proof. Musicians cannot be acoustic or tribute acts, and must use a real drum kit and guitars! These local bands have to be paid an agreeable rate for their performance. Venues can charge for entry at the door or sell advance tickets. Or it can be free entry. The onus will be on event organisers to arrange all licences and make security arrangements. What you do with any secured profits is entirely up to you – keep it or give it to a good cause, whatever suits.
Like all complex systems it’s difficult to tell what small impact “Operation: Band Sanitiser!” can have on the entertainment sector locally, and whether we’re able to collectively restart the world engine or keep it ticking over in limp mode until there’s a more intensive long term recovery. At least a decade if past economic downturns are anything to go by.
But to my mind we can have a lot of fun finding out and that’s important too. If we can’t help everyone with “Operation: Band Sanitiser,” at least we gave it a shot. There are lots of soft targets that are impossible to measure, such as facilitating the growth of music networks, getting people out of the house for a memorable night, and bringing artists together to support and collaborate with one another. Those are all worthy pursuits that this plan can stimulate without any direct involvement from any of us.
“Operation: Band Sanitiser!” isn’t about cutting off the feet of other businesses in the local sound and lighting industry. This is about providing a stimulus package for businesses and community groups to facilitate new events and activities that wouldn’t have existed without this offer being made in the first place. This is about creating new growth and energy in our sector so that other experienced sound and lighting providers can build on the foundations that are being laid by Eat Audio in the coming years. Without venues for musicians, there is no live music.
Although this plan means Eat Audio isn’t making money on these limited cost free ventures it agrees to support – it isn’t going to go stale and let the local music scene go stagnant either. That to me is the most pressing concern. Instead with some luck it may bring about positive developments in the entertainment sector after times of Coronavirus, whatever form that may take.
Although 2020 may be a loss, in 2021 it will be time to plant some seeds!