Sound of silence – events under entertainment lockdown

The entire theatre, cinema, studio, and live-music ecosystem is under threat on a global scale from the feared coronavirus. As a result, postponements, cancellations, and other modifications have now become the norm.

Here in Jamaica, the organisers of BRT Weekend, following their upbeat declarations on Tuesday that the show would go on, back-pedalled on Wednesday. A press release posted online said, “The CEOs of BRT Weekend are very concerned about the impact and risk factors COVID-19 poses on thousands of committed tourist attendees expected for this weekend.” It added that instead of this weekend, BRT will now be staged from July 31 to August 2.

Earlier this week, the Sterling Gospel Music Awards team had advised that the show would go on. However, a release Thursday morning outlined their “decision to postpone the event due to the rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in Jamaica and announcements made by the Government and health officials to avoid public gatherings”. They promised that a new date would be set.

While no mention was made of ticket refunds, persons who purchased prepaid tickets at certified outlets were advised to retain these tickets for future use. “Tickets purchased online will still be valid once receipts and online confirmations are maintained,” the statement advised.

In a joint statement Wednesday evening, the Guild of Students and The University of the West Indies (UWI) said that in light of COVID-19 hitting Jamaican shores, the decision had been taken to postpone UWI Carnival 2020 events. “The UWI community deems this as a necessity as we put the interests of our stakeholders – patrons, sponsors, service providers, and the general public – at the fore,” the statement said. The annual UWI Carnival was scheduled for March 12-15.

Organisers of another highly anticipated event, Frenchmen, have announced that owing to coronavirus, they would be cancelling all lymes and Easter weekend and carnival events for 2020. “As responsible party promoters for over 25 years, the Frenchmen continue to put the interests of patrons, sponsors, service providers, and the public at the forefront. We appreciate and will continue to support the efforts of our Government and our fellow Jamaicans to protect the health and safety of our country,” the group said in a press release. Frenchmen is offering full refunds to patrons who had purchased tickets and has provided an email address and telephone number for those with concerns or queries.

Weddy Weddy, the weekly Wednesday party at Stone Love HQ on Burlington Avenue, is also on suspension with immediate effect. “We didn’t even have Weddy last night,” the promoter, Winston ‘Wee Pow’ Powell, told The Gleaner. “We string up and everything, but from we hear the prime minister say that all gatherings should be suspended, we just called it off. A few persons turned up, but nothing was held,” he explained.

Wee Pow’s birthday bash, a free event that was scheduled for tomorrow at the same venue, is also postponed. “I am disappointed because we were having a domino tournament, and we were all looking forward to a great time. But we will just have to wait it out and abide with whatever measures the Government puts in place. This is a serious virus, and we can’t be too careful,” the veteran sound system man said, adding that there will be no Weddy Weddy next Wednesday either.

Temporarily on hold

Rassis International and Island Coffees Café, the promoters of Conscious Reggae Party Live, say that the weekly Friday event, which has been staged since August last year at Devon House, is temporarily on hold. The Jamaica Cultural Development Commission (JCDC) has advised that effective today, all scheduled JCDC events have been postponed until further notice.

Overseas, one of the world’s biggest music festivals has been postponed. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival was set to take place over two weekends next month in the California desert. The event’s organiser, Goldenvoice, has moved it to October at the request of health authorities. Grammy kid Koffee planned to make her Coachella debut this year alongside headliners Rage Against the Machine and Frank Ocean, as well as Travis Scott, Calvin Harris, and Lana Del Rey. Coachella, one of the world’s most high-profile music events, attracts many celebrity attendees. Stagecoach, a country-music festival organised by the same company, has also been moved from April to October.

Miami has officially postponed the 22nd Ultra Music Festival, and the coronavirus outbreak has also affected one of spring’s major music events, with the city of Austin taking the decision to cancel the South by Southwest festival.

“We are devastated to share this news with you... . ‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” the festival organisers stated.

Many broadcast networks have taken the decision to tape shows without live audiences, and cinemas are also doing things differently. Sony has reportedly shifted the global launch of Peter Rabbit 2 from April to August, and MGM, Eon, and Universal have postponed the global release of their James Bond movie, No Time to Die, from April to November.

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