Shared social experiences are a fundamental part of the human existence. Even as the world moves increasingly online, people still need social occasions. The question is how can social events and theatres be safely managed post lockdown?
Anyone who has worked in the eventing and theatre industries will tell you that even before the Coronavirus pandemic organising an event could be a harrowing experience.
As the theatre manager of the trendy boutique theatre in Cape Town, 44 on Long, Esra Overberg is no stranger to the potential drama that eventing can cause, however, the health and safety of theatre and event-goers is absolutely critical as we navigate the Coronavirus pandemic.
Even though South Africa has vague guidelines on how to proceed, venue managers such as Esra have put stringent measures in place to ensure the safety of both patrons and theatre staff. Familiar measures like venue signage, patron and staff screening processes, awareness training, counter screens, and furniture spacing can all be found inside the theatre.
Social distancing principles such as a 50-person maximum per event and seating, and table settings spread 1.5 meters apart are already in play. Just as they have in the past, the theatre and eventing industries will evolve and Esra predicts that conferencing and eventing will become increasingly virtual and could reach a far greater captive audience.
The industry will recover over time and whilst virtual events were a great improvisation during the lockdown, events have always been about the power of shared experience. Socially shared experiences are a fundamental part of our human nature and will come back albeit in a slightly different way.
As an industry, key players in the eventing world need to take centre stage in the negotiations with our government to ensure that everything humanly possible is being done to make people feel safe when they return to our treasured public spaces.
Our longing for the social world must be combined with the versatility of the virtual one. Although there are excellent and efficient global eventing regulations it is important to come together and tailor them to suit our eventing environment.
44 on Long has made sure they are certifiably safe by complying with the COVID-19 operational regulations as a location for films and conferencing as set out by NALA (National Association of Location Agents).
The travel and hospitality industry has taken a bold step in the right direction by implementing the SGS Global Cleaning and Disinfection Remote Assessment which certifies when a premise has been disinfected and inspected by a reputable organisation.
A formal stamp of approval or a list of accredited venues to enable people to select the safest space in which to conduct eventing business is also a necessary step to getting the show back on the road.
Venues such as 44 on Long have worked hard to ensure that they are ready to raise their curtain and continue operating.
Although many of us are almost dizzy with excitement at the idea of being able to go to splendid soirees again, it is important that we reinforce care about our health and only go to events where deep cleaning processes are implemented and social distancing protocols are upheld.