LA MIRARA, California – Gallagher Staging is known for producing live events, so when the industry stopped due to the pandemic, Joey Gallagher and some colleagues came up with the idea for Social Sanctuary. The warehouse location provides a stage for artists to sing under a spotlight while wearing a mask and without a live audience.
“We have decided to show the industry that there is a way to get back to work,” said Gallagher.
And eight weeks after the idea started, the venue is a case study of how live events can be held in a COVID-19 world.
“We like to say that we are at level ten in safety, so everyone is socially distant, they also wear masks, some wear face shields,” said Gallagher. “We encapsulated our front of house system in plexiglass.”
When someone arrives on the spot, they are screened, he said. They should answer a health questionnaire and have their temperature checked.
Once approved, they can enter the site and walk through certain corridors in specific directions. Artists are also given a special green room that has previously been disinfected.
Gallagher said he hopes this proof-of-concept could be something that companies could adopt for live events like AEG or LiveNation.
“We have to make sure we can get back to work and so if we are not at level 10 we are doing the wrong thing, so all we are doing here is to show all the best practices you can practice, we are on them create it, ”said Gallagher.
The shows are mainly streamed online with a mix of live DJ sets, live bands and most recently a comedy show with audience wearing masks and following the social distance rules.
But adding a live audience during a pandemic is tricky, even if you follow the CDC guidelines., He said.
“And then you learn about, how do you serve drinks? How do you maintain toilet facilities and are the toilets disinfected before and after each use? ‘ Gallagher said.
The guidelines are strict, but Gallagher doesn’t take any risks in keeping people safe and making his employees work, he said. When the pandemic put their company aside, Gallagher and many others felt hopeless.
“We were all in a very dark place, now we have this project and it really excited us and it was great to work through this together,” he said.
So he plans to keep Social Sanctuary running even when live events revert to pre-pandemic times, Gallagher said.