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Arts & Culture

Under Strict COVID-19 Rules, Music Acts Livestream From North Beach Bandshell

Jonah Gouin

Rapid COVID-19 testing for performers and stagehands is among the safety measures at the popular Miami Beach venue.

For many theater lovers and concertgoers, one of life’s pleasures is being able to watch performances in the open air. Perhaps that’s why bandshells have such a long and rich history.

Like so many other performing arts venues throughout the country, the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach had to close down to live audiences once the coronavirus pandemic struck.

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Almost immediately, the venue started live-streaming concerts and events — but there’s still the challenge of keeping the performers and the backstage crew safe.

The popular bandshell's COVID-19 mitigation strategy could serve as a case study for how Florida's venues transition from empty theaters to packed houses again.

"At all times, masks are worn backstage," says Benton Galgay, deputy director of The Rhythm Foundation — which has been running the North Beach Bandshell for the city of Miami Beach for the last five years.

There are single points of entry and exit to and from the venue. The bandshell has also introduced rapid COVID-19 testing for the performers and crew, which is done hours before showtime.

Recent easing of COVID-19 restrictions — first by Miami-Dade County and then by the state of Florida — won't have an immediate effect on the bandshell's programming. And The Rhythm Foundation is making plans for when the venue can welcome back audiences at full capacity.

Meanwhile, Galgay says the fall season's virtual events will serve as a "backbone" to make sure all of the North Beach Bandshell's COVID-19 safety measures work without a hitch.

"We're not going to go from zero to 60," says Galgay.

IF YOU GO (ONLINE): The North Beach Bandshell

Please visit the Bandshell's website for information about the venue's live-streaming fall season.
This interview is part of “Intermission,” a WLRN series looking at how South Florida’s arts community is coping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’ve got a story for us, please send an email to talktous@wlrnnews.org, with the word “Intermission” in the subject line.

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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