Music venues across the state have effectively been shut down during COVID-19, at first because of uncertainty surrounding the virus’ capability to spread and wreak havoc and then by Gov. Henry McMaster’s ban on large gatherings as cases skyrocketed.
With recent case numbers dipping, McMaster lifted that ban at the end of July, allowing South Carolina venues to host up to 250 patrons or 50 percent of their capacity, whichever is less.
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The Gaillard Center is the first Charleston-area performance venue to take McMaster up on reopening its doors, with his stipulation intact.
Last week, the Myrtle Beach Speedway was issued a warning for violating McMaster’s executive order by hosting more than 3,000 people at a race. The penalty for the violation could have been $100 or up to 30 days in jail.
The Gaillard Center will open to up to 250 patrons at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 for an evening with musician Brendan James, who lives in the Lowcountry. Most well-known musical acts are not touring right now because of COVID-19, so booking a local artist was a move made out of necessity, but also a timely one.
The show, which will be made available to both a live stream and in-person audience, will preview songs from James’ brand new album “Leap Taken.”
This announcement comes less than a week after the Gaillard Center announced upcoming rescheduled and canceled shows for the 2020-2021 season.
“While we are still unable to open the 1,800-seat (performance hall) at full capacity, we are overjoyed to safely welcome back patrons for socially-distanced events,” said Director of Marketing Kellie Lawson.
The Gaillard Center will be taking precautionary measures in line with the City of Charleston and CDC guidelines to host patrons inside the venue. Included will be new sanitation and cleaning procedures, building modifications and patron requirements.
Those requirements include wearing masks, passing a temperature check before entering the building, adhering to six-foot social distancing and following a one-way walking system marked by arrows. Also recommended are clear bags to reduce security staff contact, continual use of sanitation stations and staying at home if feeling ill.
Reminder graphics will be posted throughout the venue, and current protocols could be adjusted.
Live stream tickets start at $10, while in-person tickets start at $30, with applicable fees. There will also be a limited number of VIP upgrades that include a pre-show virtual meet-and-greet with James and an audio download of the live performance. Tickets can be purchased at gaillardcenter.org or by calling 843-579-6468.
The Gaillard Center has been hosting local artists on its stage during the pandemic, but only to a live stream audience. That series of shows, which can be viewed online, is called Lowcountry Listens. Since its debut at the beginning of June, 11 performances have been filmed for the series. James was the first artist who performed for that series.
The performance venue has also been a supporter of the Save Our Stages Act, which if passed in Congress, would provide funds to keep the lights on at independently-owned venues across the country that have been forced to shutter during the pandemic. The Charleston Pour House is another local venue in support of that act.
Reach Kalyn Oyer at 843-371-4469. Follow her on Twitter @sound_wavves.