At a press conference on Thursday (May 14), TempleLive announced it was rescheduling its socially-distanced Travis McCready concert scheduled for Friday night in Fort Smith, Arkansas. The show was set to be one of the first shows hosted after mass gatherings were banned throughout the county due to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The venue is now hoping to hold the concert Monday, in order to adhere to state law.
Despite what TempleLive described as an open line of communication with the Governor’s office over the past few weeks, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told reporters on Tuesday that he did not approve of the event, which was scheduled for three days before concerts were legally permitted to resume, and said he would issue a cease and desist.
According to the governor’s reopening plan, music venues can reopen on May 18 but are still subjected to occupancy limitations. The governor’s orders state venues can not host more than 50 people at an event, which representatives for TempleLive have deemed “discriminatory” since churches are not subject to occupancy limitations.
“Even if you are going to have 250 people at a venue, you still have to have a specific plan that would be approved by the Department of Health. None of that was done in this case. It is out of time,” Hutchinson said at a press conference Tuesday. “You can’t just arbitrarily determine when the restrictions are lifted. That is something that is done based upon a public health requirement. In terms of the concert, there will be a cease and desist order that will be issued by the department of health directing that that concert not take place, which is an official legal order and directive that will go out.”
On Thursday, Lance Beaty, head of Beaty Capital Group which owns the Arkansas venue TempleLive, accused the governor of stepping on their “constitutional rights with its cease and desist letter.” He continued, “It is a show, but what is represents to the world is hope.”
During the press conference, TempleLive stated that Arkansas’ Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) came to the venue and removed its license on Thursday morning, effectively shutting down the venue.
TempleLive’s Mike Brown said at the press conference that they are still hoping Hutchinson will allow the show to go forward on Friday, but that they have also submitted an application to hold the event on May 18, the day the governor originally stated indoor venues could reopen. At the press conference, representatives for TempleLive said the ABC told them if they publicly announced the event moving was to May 18, the venue could have its liquor license reinstated and would most likely be allowed to proceed with the Travis McCready show on that date.
TempleLive had established extensive protocols for safety at the show including fan pods that kept groups isolated, fog sprayers and sanitation stations. “It is demonstrably safer than what would happen at a church,” said TempleLive legal counsel John Scott at Thursday’s press conference.
TempleLive has also scheduled a Travis McCready concert for Saturday at Tall Pines Distillery in Pineville, Missouri. The location is less than a two hour drive from Fort Smith, Arkansas, and will sell up to 400 tickets.
As of May 4, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson gave the okay for concerts to reopen in the state as long as “social distancing requirements” are met. A representative from Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services clarified for Billboard that concerts do not have to adhere to the same occupancy limitations as retail businesses, but event organizers are expected to keep concertgoers six feet or more apart to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.