Despite COVID-19 restricting large gatherings, live performances are back on the agenda with audiences up to 600 people from July, thanks to Drive-In Entertainment Australia.
The company has teamed up with local councils and will launch with eight new COVID-safe venues across NSW and Victoria during Phase 1, with other states potentially following.
In its simplest form, the concept is a drive in theatre – where patrons enjoy shows from the comfort and safety of their own car with audio being broadcasted by an FM radio signal to your car’s surround-sound speakers, which will sync with the sound stage.
The intimacy we all look for in live performances is still present but with a modern day twist. Performances will have the added potential of being live-streamed to the cars via Zoom, allowing the audience to interact with artists and vis-versa in real time. And the rapture of applause can be made bigger with car horns going off and wind screen wipers swaying in unison.
“We like most people in the entertainment industry, we were left devastated when our gigs evaporated overnight,” said Drive-In Entertainment Australia managing director Samwise Holmes.
“Rather than let it defeat us, we sought to innovate. Entertainment is what keeps the light on in times like this, we want to keep Australians hopeful and keep entertainers employed – while adhering to strict health regulations.
“Even if Stage 3 restrictions are realised in July, Australians will still only be allowed to congregate with groups of up to 100 people, and that is not sustainable for most live performances. With the Drive-In Hubs, performers will have the ability to entertain up to 300 cars. And that’s a lot of people having a great night out – safely!”
Kennedy & Partners managing director Paul Kennedy said: “In March, all face to face events were cancelled and with it every brand’s event sponsorship plans for 2020. Drive-In Entertainment events are allowing brands to finally connect with audiences again and activate on site in a safe way while helping relieve some of the boredom and isolation that many Australians have been feeling being stuck at home during COVID-19. It will also allow brands to show their support for Australia’s arts industry and artists, many of whom are struggling to survive.”
Drive-In Entertainment Australia will be in full compliance with each state’s Public Health acts, which have been updated to deal with COVID-19. Almost every stage of your experience, apart from bathroom breaks, is done within your own car.
All ticketing will be non-contact. This will be achieved through the use of electronic devices and manual scanning, without contact ever being made between the staff and patrons. Condition of entry will be that no person is to exit their vehicles whilst on site except to use the bathroom. Food will be available via contactless order & delivery from on-site food-truck vendors. No contact will be made at any point between caterer & patron. Vehicles can be parked 2 Metres from each other. Ticketing will be per person, not per vehicle, with a limit of 2 adults per vehicle, with allowances for children aged 3-17. On-site Security Staff will ensure that all of these conditions are met.
Like many entertainers, Casey Donovan’s life has been completely disrupted by coronavirus.
“I am so excited to get back on stage in front of actual people and not just a camera phone in my bedroom! The Coronavirus has taken out an industry that will never back down or give up the fight, the music/entertainment industry is continuously trying so hard to keep everyone entertained and distracted from the reality that has now become a new kind of normal,” Donovan said.
“With the entertainment industry being the first to close and most likely the last to open, I think the concept of a drive up gig with the interaction via video/car horn and windscreen wipers is such a great idea! I jumped at the opportunity to come on board, I think it’s a great way to be entertained and be in the comfort of your own vehicle. It’s new and exciting and possibly the way of the future!”
Equity president Chloe Dallimore is excited by the news of the launch of Drive-in Entertainment Australia.
“Thousands of creatives, performers, musicians and technicians have been left out of the JobKeeper allowance, and our proud industry is on its knees. Drive-in Entertainment is an innovative way of rethinking audience access to our live entertainment sector. It’s a retro concept that will not only thrill audiences but will hopefully help keep the heartbeat of Australian entertainment alive and thriving until we’re able to perform in our traditional venues once more,” she said.
“We’ve seen comedians, actors and singers live stream on social media platforms, performing either for free or for pay-what-you-can donations, which has been inspiring and gives us all hope. However, we must revitalise our industry, and recognising the true dollar value of a live performance so that entertainers can pay the rent like other workers is a huge step in the right direction. Drive-in Entertainment feels as if it could be the trailblazer.”
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