The LA and the downtown music scene had been blowing up in recent years and the 2020 festival season was just beginning. The locals in the music scene immediately got creative. Many have hosted virtual concerts, rent music venue spaces out at temporary production studios, and more. Ben is hoping that live music will make its comeback in a safe, socially distanced, and outdoor setting in early 2021. The city was able to put together emergency grants for local musicians to keep a roof over their head, but the venues have had to resort to applying for the federal relief programs such as the PPE loans.
Scroll below to read the full interview from October, 2020 with the Los Angeles Pilot City Leader, Ben Johnson.
What did the overall situation look like in your city when the pandemic hit?
Right before the pandemic hit, the LA music scene was huge. There had been a transformation in downtown LA surrounding music and the festival scene had been growing over recent years. We had been preparing for the upcoming summer and all of the large-scale music festivals and concerts when everything shut down in March.
What is the current situation in your city? What has changed?
Initially there was panic which later turned into people in the industry getting extremely creative. Currently, the city of LA is allowing no gatherings which means no live music. There have been many virtual shows, and other ways to use the venue spaces. Music venues have been able to rent out their space for production studios and as affordable rental options for film productions.
We are continuing to push to have immersive virtual/online concerts or smaller, and socially safe park and street concerts. We hope that music will be able to return in a safe environment within music venues with limited capacities in the beginning of 2021.
What did you get out of being a pilot city in the REVS initiative?
Networking and information sharing were the two largest takeaways from our involvement with REVS. We were able to see what other cities in the same industry were doing across the US and the globe. We were able to talk with others to see what was working and how to effectively pass certain policy.
Were you able to procure funding for the local venues? If so, where did the support come from?
Unfortunately, the city of LA has not been able to procure any funds for the local music venues. The music venues and their staffs have signed up for the federal relief programs. On the bright side, we were able to put together emergency grants that went to local musicians and artists for them to pay their basic expenses.