State Watch

Music venue challenging Arkansas order with concert: ‘We’re not trying to be difficult’


An Arkansas music venue with a concert scheduled for Friday, three days before the state lifts its ban on such events, has accused the state health department of inconsistent treatment.

The Travis McCready concert, scheduled to take place at Temple Live in Fort Smith, is thought to be the first major in-person concert set to go on since the pandemic began.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has warned that the music venue could face “consequences” by going ahead with the concert before such venues are allowed to reopen.

The venue has said it will follow social distancing measures, allowing about a quarter of its 1,100-person capacity, checking temperatures at the door and requiring masks. However, state officials said that in addition to the early date, organizers did not submit the required plan for complying with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.

“If Travis McCready was playing music at a church two blocks from here, on Friday, would it be permitted?” Mike Brown, the vice president for entertainment/clubs and theaters for Beaty Capital, which owns the venue, said during a press conference Wednesday.

“If the answer to question number one is yes, would there be any greater public health risk for the people in attendance at a church event than there would be at Temple Live?” he continued.

“If the answer to question number two is yes, that it is a greater risk, please explain the scientific data that transmission of COVID-19 or any other communicable disease is greater in the building that we’re standing in right now?” he asked.

“We’re not trying to be difficult. We just want to be treated fairly and with respect, like you are. It’s not a fun job, what you guys are doing, and this is a horrible time in our country,” he added.

McCready denied the event was intended as a “publicity stunt” in a Wednesday Instagram post, writing, “I’m just a small time independent musician who loves to play the music that I work very hard to create for those who wish to be safely entertained at their own pro-safety driven decision to participate or not.”

Hutchinson warned Wednesday of organizers pushing ahead with the concert: “Obviously that would encounter some consequences if that’s the direction they pursue.”

“Our enforcement capacity can utilize local law enforcement because this is an enforceable order that we have in place, and there could be other remedies as well,” he said, without providing specifics.

Tags Arkansas concert Coronavirus

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