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Entertainment in a Pandemic

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When times of change beckon, everything normal is suddenly different. Each industry is forced to rethink its course of work, to adapt and respond to the effects of Covid19. Even though things are back to somewhat of a normalcy in Sri Lanka, the battle against the virus, continues.

One of the most affected industries was that of events and entertainment. Weddings and various other gatherings of leisure were temporarily put on hold due to the lockdown. Elegant Magazine, spoke to some entertainers, event planners and organizers about coping during tough times, changing the narrative and finding ways to enhance creativity in a pandemic.

Lahiru Crishan- Founder and CEO of De Arts Events

What is the specialty of an outdoor wedding?

We live on an island surrounded by beautiful beaches and natural landscapes. We can use our natural scenery as an advantage. Many brides opt-out of a traditional indoor wedding and choose to get married in the outdoors now. Whether your marriage takes place in a field, backyard, hotel, or on a beach, an outdoor wedding captures an air of romance.

What factors should be looked into, when doing outdoor weddings?

If you are planning an outdoor wedding, there are numerous factors to consider. A primary concern when it comes to planning an outdoor wedding is the ‘weather’. That is why marquee weddings are most popular when it comes to outdoor weddings. However, to summarize there are few other important factors as well to consider. Which is, Logistics / Contingency plans / Décor / venue accessibility / permits and regulations and lighting.

If you are busy with other work and don’t have time to plan every detail of your wedding, my advice is to hire a professional wedding planner particularly someone with experience in handling an outdoor wedding which will make your life easier.

What are the services included for your outdoor wedding packages?

Mainly we do Marquee setups & Decor / Outdoor lighting / Outdoor rentals including types of furniture, Platforms and staging. Other than that we do personalized monogram dance floors / Lit up letters & lantern décor as well. From planning, production and the execution, our in house team is capable of handling any outdoor event. Various factors like venue accessibility/logistics and transportation, number of guests and decor setup are handled by them and usually, takes a minimum of two days to complete based on the scale of the event.

How has Covid19 affected your operation?

We were the first company to be granted permission to do an outdoor function in Colombo lockdown which was successfully held in June. We took all necessary measures to ensure guests were safe. In addition to the government regulations, we went the extra mile to implement our own safety guidelines which suits the nature of our business. For example, all material used such as our marquees, furniture and setups were disinfected before and after every function. Separate teams were assigned to separate timelines during the production.

I’ve also realized that even after covid-19 regulations were lifted, lots of people wanted to move from indoor events to outdoor as well since It’s a risk-free environment for them to celebrate their big day freely rather than being packed inside of a ballroom.

Ranil Amirthiah- Founder and Leader of Black and Black Magic Studios

As a band, how have performances at concerts and wedding changed since Covid19?

I will have to break the post COVID period into two phases

First phase: (the Mid-March lockdown)

In this period, till about early July, there was no work. All events were cancelled. Early July when restrictions were eased, still, 80% of our wedding bookings got postponed and all other events were cancelled (corporate/school/associations) so basically, it was a struggle for all entertainers.

We were very positive and did not believe in going for the loan that the government gave.

Things were turning slowly towards normalcy during and after the presidential elections and to make up for the lost revenue, we as BLACK, started doing our concerts with a simple formula – fair price, good entertainment and star class venues.

Weddings were slowly coming back and a few corporates were rescheduling their postponed events

Second phase: (the October 2020 COVID 19 restrictions)

With the Minuwangoda patient – our progress stalled again – but this time, weddings were allowed as long as it’s 50% of the ballroom capacity – so we are barely surviving.

For a band that was busy 25-30 days a month – we have had only four weddings in October.

The government have asked entertainers to focus on more outdoor activities, but as a band how will you prepare?

Outdoor activities – will have its limitations for a Band like ours – 90% our clientele are clients who have indoor events. As a band that has a following, we can organise outdoor events – but maybe just once a month. Clubs and pubs will hire or schedule Bands only if people are visiting these places. People are scared to move about!!

How has the industry been affected, and how will the event industry recover?

According to me – the damage is universal so hope is the only thing we have to keep us going. But will HOPE put food on my table today? I can have hope for tomorrow or next week or month – but what will I do today?

Recovery is going to be slow – until people feel comfortable moving out of their houses – the entertainment industry is going to suffer. Remember – we can fill a stage with musicians – but what good is a stage with musicians, if there is no audience? The government can only do so much – it’s you and me as a society that have to learn and adapt to live with a deadly virus amongst us.

Shakeer Mohamed-Executive Director at SRSA Events, Productions & Talent Management

Your event company is known for extravagant concerts; how will the company organize such concerts in the future?

Desperate for physical connection, for old times and for good vibes, only guarantees that people will come back for extravagant events, for good music and unique experiences. People are at a state where they regret taking such events for granted, the reasons they cite to decline attending such events in the past were so miniscule and negligible.

Let me give you an example, people would not have watched a cricket match at a stadium because, you don’t get a better view yeah? But imagine the emotion people would have for the next World Cup? People would watch it at a stadium just for the experience.

How different has work been, post-covid?

We are certain that our team will happily obey all restrictions and safety measures from relevant authorities simply because this won’t be the new normal only for our industry but everyone. From schools to hotels to pubs & bars it will be a way of life for sure. While we are hopeful about the new normal and ready to accept it, we must not forget that a vaccine should be on its way anytime soon.

How will your team prepare in future to handle events during pandemic times?

Working post-covid is challenging, as we are on the lookout for creative ways to help deliver the experience our audience is looking for during their lowest times, from drive-thru concerts to online concerts people are enjoying themselves and are positive for a mind-blowing experience that’s awaiting them.

By Mena Kumar

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