Making whoopee after the era of COVID-19

A promoter sees a whole new industry around public health safety becoming a fact of life that will impact the entertainment scene. An artist says co-existence with COVID-19 will become the new normal for humanity worldwide. For the third entertainer, whatever happens, sponsorship for events will be harder to come by in the same way that it will be a while before people are sufficiently confident to step outside and boogie. Staff Writer GOSEGO MOTSUMI reports.

As restrictions were slapped on public gatherings due to the novel Coronavirus earlier this year, music festivals and other crowd pulling events were forced to postpone to later in the year or cancel completely. As a result, the last months of the year are jam-packed even as the optimism of event planners co-exists with a degree of trepidation about the safely gathering in large numbers after restrictions are eased. At any rate, whether music festivals will restart or not, people everywhere are in the cusp of making considerable lifestyle adaptations and it could be a while before a return to festivities and the outdoors as life was before the advent of COVID-19.

Sharing his projections of how the new normal for the entertainment scene will look like if the virus doesn’t come back in a big way to compel people back indoors, promoter, founder and event organizer of the Botswana International Music Conference (BIMC), Seabelo Modibe, says public health and proper licensing will become major priorities. Although social distancing at festivals and concerts will be a major, Modibe says there will be a whole new industry around public health safety that will include the erection of sanitizer and disinfection booths, registration of festival revelers by ticketing companies, temperature checks and tight rules on the numbers allowed into performance venues for both performing artists and revelers. Perhaps the most telling change will be reduced numbers of people at large and small venues alike.

“My take is that everything will be different,” Modibe notes. “There is going to be a huge craving for live music after this because audiences enjoy live performances but the restrictions will be very tight. Whether or not this year is a total write-off, industry people will need to approach these new challenges creatively. If ever there was a time to think outside the box, this is the time.”

Organizer of the “Waar Was Jy Oldies Series,” Lecco Kenosi, who is a music promoter and kwaito artist, predicts that if festivals are staged dates will be congested and limited availability of venues will push prices up. It will be harder to secure sponsorships because companies will be recovering from the long period of inactivity and loss. “The risk of producing events will be very high,” says Kenosi. “Most investors and sponsors will not buy into events because of uncertainty of attendance as it could take a while before people are sufficiently confident to step outside and go to events, especially mature crowd events.”

Kenosi sees events being more expensive to put together compared to pre-COVID-19 times because a lot of health and safety measures will have to be implemented, implying costs. “The government is going to be stricter on events,” he says. “This will bring positive changes in professionalism and industry growth but painful for most of us informal businesses.”

Whatever happens, the return of festivals and concerts will depend mainly on the success with containing the virus so that the economy may function. Artist manager and spokesperson of the Botswana Entertainment Promoters Association (BEPA), Sidney ‘DJ Boogie Sid’ Nzala, understands this fully. “Events will make use of local talent and we will not need foreign talent,” he says. “Producing locally speaks to funding, and businesses will need to change their model of funding to support local. We have to find ways to co-exist with the virus.”