GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Multiple venues in Grand Rapids are leaving it up to the performer, team, organization or league to decide whether or not to require COVID-19 vaccinations at their events.
"We rent them out for people to use," said Richard MacKeigan, regional general manager for ASM Global, managing the Van Andel, DeVos Performance Hall and DeVos place. "So, not all that different than someone who owns an apartment building and rents out the apartment. What happens in the apartment, provided is within the realm of the law, is up to the person who rents the apartment."
MacKeigan said they will continue to work with state, local and federal health guidelines, as well as the show or team itself.
Country and southern-rock artist, Jason Isbell, announced on Twitter he will require COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test for his performances. He has a show at DeVos Performance Hall on Aug. 26. MacKeigan said the ASM Global will honor that, and team is working with Isbell's management to figure out how to best implement the procedures.
"It would be a function of how we go about checking that the vaccination status to the satisfactory level that the performer or the league would have," said MacKeigan.
Meanwhile, smaller venues are taking a similar approach. The Pyramid Scheme, which hosts smaller, intimate performances, will honor artists' choices if they want a vaccinated crowd.
"I hope it encourages more people to come out who were not comfortable coming into a space without those requirements," said Tami VandenBerg, the co-owner of Pyramid Scheme.
There are three performances in August that will require the vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test. For now, they will be checking vaccination cards at the door, or a picture of the test results or card. VandenBerg hopes people will be honest with them about the legitimacy of their vaccination status, as they will not be able to verify with health records for each attendee.
"As these musicians are going all across the country, through all of these different venues, packed rooms, you can imagine their desire to keep themselves healthy," said VandenBerg. "They desperately need this revenue. They desperately want to be back on the stages, with their fans, and want everyone to stay as safe as they can."
She said it was ultimately the requests of the artists that made VandenBerg and her team allow the requirements, as she said many of them have lost their livelihood for an entire year amid the pandemic.
Live Nation is also allowing artists to decide, including at GLC Live at 20 Monroe. In a statement, CEO Michael Rapino said: "Our teams have worked together to put new processes in place so that artists doing shows with Live Nation in the U.S. can require all attendees and staff to be fully vaccinated or show a negative test result for entry, where permitted by law. We believe this is a great model, and we have already implemented this successfully at many major shows including Lollapalooza. We know people are eager to return to live events and we hope these measures encourage even more people to get vaccinated."
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